At some point in my research I came across an alternate name for the Bee Goddess as Mylitta (an older version of Melissae meaning bee).
Malidthu, Mu Allidta, Mulitta (mldth at Ugarit); Mylitta, Melita, Molis (Greek)/ Mirru (mr at Ugarit); Myrrha (Greek)
"According to some sources, her name means "Childbearing" and she is the mother of ’Adon. She is identified as a goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and childbirth. Her shrine was at the sacred spring of Afka, where fire was said to fall into the water, renewing the youth of the goddess, combining the force of earthly flowing water and of heavenly fire. She was sometimes depicted nude riding a tortoise or he-goat." (source)I had already been feeling another pull to study Aphrodite more in depth. The information above made me feel that the Bee Goddess of Crete was most likely an older and more intact imagining of Aphrodite and solidified that it was time to revisit she who is most commonly thought of only as a Goddess of physical love and attraction.
"As an image arising in the human heart, Aphrodite comes alive when the animal nature of humanity is experienced as divine."
"We should perhaps remember that in our culture the divinity of Aphrodite has been so long sacrificed to what Erich Neumann describes as the patriarchal sexualization of the feminine that we have probably forgotten who she is."
"Aphrodite is then the daughter of Heaven and Sea - the original mother goddess in many traditions - and the first fruit of the separation of Heaven and Earth, carrying as her birthright, as it were, the memory of their union."
"Stories and images of Aphrodite portray her as the synthesis of nature and culture; natural beauty and the art that celebrates the beauty of life."
"Although Aphrodite inhabits our imagination as essentially Greek, the Greeks in turn inherited her from Cyprus via Crete, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Yet Aphrodite is primarily a descendant of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna-Ishtar, who became Astarte in Phoenicia and was called Atargatis by the Philistines, and Ashtoreth by the Hebrews. Innana's consort, Dumizi, and Ishtar's Tammuz became, in the Greek tradition, Aphrodite's Adonis, the dying and resurrected son-lover of the goddess in a new form."- The Myth of the Goddess by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford (p. 351 and 358)
"Aphrodite is a fertility Goddess, the primal mother of all on-going creation. She is virgin in the original sense (one-in-herself, not necessarily abstaining from sex but always remaining independent), and has eternal beauty."
"In Crete the epithet Antheia (flower goddess) was connected with Aphrodite at Knossos."
"Aphrodite came into Greece through Cyprus and originally was from western Asia, where a young lover, Adonis, eventually was added to her mythology. The Goddess was akin especially to Ishtar and Astarte."- Lost Goddesses of Early Greece by Charlene Spretnak
Even after lengthy research on various Goddesses, I am still amazed when the pieces of each Goddess' story connects back to her original "Great Goddess and Creator of All Things" roots. In this little bit of study alone the following connection have been made: Minoan Bee Goddess = Mylitta = Ashtoreth = Innana-Ishtar = Astarte = Isis = Aphrodite. The Goddesses connected with Aphrodite are all Great Goddess figures - not just goddesses of love or other singular aspects. I should not be surprised (as I do believe all Goddesses are one and must all have singular roots) but still I find I'm always amazed and satisfied when I make these connections through my own research.
I hope to eventually study more about Aphrodite and Adonis (also Dionysos, Tammuz, Dumizi, Osiris, and probably Plutos/Hades in my opinion as well). I have some theories concerning Aphrodite and Persephone and their place in a trinity of Great Mother Gaia, but that's for another time.
Please feel free to contribute your own ideas, theories, research, and comments. I always love a great discussion and welcome all healthy debate.