I’ve been really looking forward to having bees when I first heard of them.
In the Realms my friends and I are playing in, I spent the second day exploring around the map alone. I decided against setting up the main base, since we haven’t decided where to put it yet. My friends were away handling some IRL stuff.
I stumbled into a flower forest and found bees! I set up my compact base there and got to work. By the end of the day, I have three beehives and quite a few bees. We ended up setting our main base near our original spawn point, since it is in the tundra and borders an ocean and a jungle biome. However, I still maintain and expand upon this side base. As of now, I have some livestock, some crops, a fishing pond with a shelter, and six beehives. It’s basically my escape from the frozen wasteland where our main base is.
Beekeeping turns out to be … ok-ish. Honey by itself is a so-so food item. It can cure Poison, and is a much better option against Cave Spiders compared to Milk since you can carry them in stacks of 16, but that’s it. If you want a good food supply, go for bread instead. Or start breeding cows.
You can turn honey into sugar, and use that to make cake and pumpkin pie. Cake is essentially a novelty food item with little practical value, and pumpkin pie, while decent in terms of hunger points, are underwhelming in terms of saturation. Honey is rather low-maintenance as food sources goes, but a rather large amount of initial investment is required to set it up. Not to mention, bees are rather hard to find in the first place. It’s too painful to set up in early game unless you got lucky like me, and not worth much practically speaking late-game.
Bees do have an interesting effect on nearby crops though. Once they gather enough pollen, they’ll fly off coated in them around the surrounding areas before heading back to the hive. As they fly around, they shed pollen and fertilize any farmland below them, speeding up crops’ growth. If you are not one to hunch over Composters grinding out Bone Meal this is a viable alternative to speed up crop growth.
Overall, I say beekeeping is a semi-practical thing to do in Minecraft. Honey has a nice niche use in mineshaft exploration, and bees can fertilize your crops. It is not as important and practical as wheat farming, wood gathering, and mining, and the rarity of bees is also severely limiting its usefulness. However, it is definitely not as useless as a diamond hoe.
But then, who plays Minecraft for 100% efficiency builds? I mean, I know some people that do that, but they are a minority compared to the rest of the playerbase. I myself make it a goal to build a farm for every single possible plant-based food item in the game, and I mostly live on baked potatoes and nothing else. In my last Realms world, I even built a kelp farm at the main base just because it is an edible crop. And our main base was at least a thousand blocks away from the sea. You don’t need to play Minecraft with maximum efficiency, you can do what you like. And I happen to like bees.
Besides, bees are adorable.