30 year olds will probably remember a time in which the face of this happy bee was found on stickers, yoghurts and, most of all, on honey pots (some were even shaped like Maya the bee!).
Even though we remember it as a character from the 70’s and the 80’s, Maya the bee was actually created in 1912 by the German writer Waldemar Bonsels. The book he wrote on her was a great success in Germany (it even inspired an opera based on the character), but it wasn’t until 1975 that the producers from Nippon Animation and the German Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen turned Maya into the main character of a TV show with 52 episodes that acquired worldly fame.
The series kept to the original story quite closely: Maya, the successor of the queen bee, decides to leave the beehive to explore the world before she has to become queen. With the help of her friend Willie, a drone bee, and Flip, a grasshopper, she lives a great deal of adventures and gets into a lot of trouble.
The story addresses subjects like friendship and freedom, but it also proved to be an excellent way of divulging entomology (the branch of science that studies insects). In fact, still today you can hear people say "Yes, I saw it in Maya the Bee" when they are shown an apparently unknown insect.
As you can see, the character of Maya the Bee is deeply seated in the memory of a whole generation, and this will probably be repeated: there’s an ongoing project to bring back the adventures of the charming bee to all the TV sets, this time in 3D.
Will we ever again hear children sing "Who’s a friendly, little bee playing oh-so happily"? Time will tell.