Reductions in global bee populations are threatening the pollination benefits to both the planet and people. Whilst the contribution of bee pollination in promoting sustainable development goals through food security and biodiversity is widely acknowledged, a range of other benefits provided by bees has yet to be fully recognised. We explore the contributions of bees towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our insights suggest that bees potentially contribute towards 15 of the 17 SDGs and a minimum of 30 SDG targets. We identify common themes in which bees play an essential role, and suggest that improved understanding of bee contributions to sustainable development is crucial for ensuring viable bee systems.