Most theories used to explain the evolution of eusociality rest upon two key assumptions: mutations affecting the phenotype of sterile workers evolve by positive selection if the resulting traits benefit fertile kin, and that worker traits provide the primary mechanism allowing social insects to adapt to their environment. Despite the common view that positive selection drives phenotypic evolution of workers, we know very little about the prevalence of positive selection acting on the genomes of eusocial insects. We mapped the footprints of positive selection in Apis mellifera through analysis of 40 individual genomes, allowing us to identify thousands of genes and regulatory sequences with signatures of adaptive evolution over multiple timescales. We found Apoidea- and Apis-specific genes to be enriched for signatures of positive selection, indicating that novel genes play a disproportionately large role in adaptive evolution of eusocial insects. Worker-biased proteins have higher signatures of adaptive evolution relative to queen-biased proteins, supporting the view that worker traits are key to adaptation. We also found genes regulating worker division of labor to be enriched for signs of positive selection. Finally, genes associated with worker behavior based on analysis of brain gene expression were highly enriched for adaptive protein and cis-regulatory evolution. Our study highlights the significant contribution of worker phenotypes to adaptive evolution in social insects, and provides a wealth of knowledge on the loci that influence fitness in honey bees.