The honey bee is an important fruit and vegetable pollinator and a producer of honey and other hive products. Beekeeping is a sustainable and high-potential activity for local communities and especially for the rural poor to gain additional income through non-timber forest products, does not require much land or high starting costs, maintains biodiversity and increases crop yields. Ethiopia is one of the top ten honey and beeswax producers in the world, but plays only a minor role in the international honey trade. Unlike large-scale beekeepers using modern techniques found in most leading honey-producing countries, the majority of Ethiopian beekeepers are small-scale producers practicing traditional beekeeping. In this article, we summarize the knowledge on Ethiopian beekeeping, honey bees, honey bee pests, marketing strategies, cultural aspects and major challenges of beekeeping. Furthermore, we used FAOSTAT data to calculate a pollination gap in order to draw the attention of stakeholders and decision-makers to bees and their importance in pollination and sustainable rural development. In regard to forage, we compiled 590 bee forage plants and their flowering times as a supplement to the article. This review outlines the following major points: (1) Ethiopia is a top honey and beeswax producer mainly for the domestic market; (2) Equipment for traditional beekeeping is easily accessible but brings disadvantages (gender gap, limitations in hive management and lower honey yield), while transitional and modern systems require certain beekeeping skills and higher starting costs; (3) Colony numbers increased by 72% from 1993 to 2018 and crop areas needing pollination by 150%; (4) Honey yield per hive and number of beehives managed per area of bee-pollinated crops increased by 20% and 28%, respectively; (5) Pesticide use has been increasing and there is a lack in pesticide use education. Recommendations to realize Ethiopia’s tremendous apicultural potential are discussed.