According to its organizers, the National Honey Bee Day program started with a simple concept:
Bring together beekeepers, bee associations, as well as other interested groups to connect with the communities to advance beekeeping. By working together and harnessing the efforts that so many already accomplish, and [by] using a united effort one day a year, the rewards and message is magnified many times over. We encourage bee associations, individuals, and other groups to get involved. The program is free and open to all.
The event was started in 2009 by a small group of beekeepers who petitioned for and obtained a formal proclamation by the USDA honoring honey bees and beekeeping. In 2010, a non-profit, Pennsylvania Apiculture Inc. was organized to better facilitate and promote the observance. The original date of observation was August 22, 2009 (the fourth Saturday of August), but has since settled permanently on the third Saturday of August.