Eva Crane, née Widdowson, was born and raised in London. She attended Sydenham College in Kent and won a scholarship to study mathematics at Kings College, London. She then earned a master's degree in quantum mechanics, and went to the University of London for a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. In 1941, she began teaching physics at Sheffield University. The following year, during World War II, she married James Alfred Crane, then serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. One of their wedding gifts was a colony of bees to provide honey at a time of sugar shortages. Dr. Crane's curiosity was piqued, and she set about finding out all she could about bees. Eventually she abandoned physics to work full-time on bee research and the science of agriculture. She joined the British Beekeepers’ Association, and in 1949 founded the Bee Research Association (later the International Bee Research Association), which she directed until 1984. She became editor of Bee World and the Journal of Apicultural Research, and wrote more than 180 scholarly articles, papers, and books, including the definitive Bees and Beekeeping: Science, Practice, and World Resources (1990), and The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting (1999). She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1986.