Bees were pretty important to the Anglo-Saxons and other northern Europeans (and I assume they were valued further south, but I'm no expert as we get closer to the Mediterranean). I've given a lot of thought to why this might be, and I think the main reason might be that it was one of the few sources of sugar in Europe before the discovery of the New World. No sugar cane, no chocolate, no vanilla ... heck, not even any tobacco! It seems that the only material pleasures left would be sex, wine, salted pork, and honey. Combine the three, and you've got Heorot Hall on a weekend.
For those interested, here's a beekeeper's charm, along with a few others.