Robin Crewe was born in Johannesburg and studied at the Natal University in South Africa before proceeding to the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, U.S.A. for his Ph.D. He completed his Ph.D. in Entomology in 1971 and was awarded the degree with distinction. For a period of ten years (1986-1996) he was the Director of the Communication Biology Research Group of the University of the Witwatersrand where a major focus of the work of the group was the study of honeybee chemical communication systems.
He has extensive experience in University administration and has been the Dean of two of the largest, and strongly research orientated Faculties of Natural Sciences & Agriculture in South Africa. He has been a Vice-principal of the University of Pretoria since 2003 and retired from this position in June 2013. He has served on a number of boards, has been actively involved with organizations engaged in research, and has served on an advisory committee for the National Department of Agriculture. He has made significant contributions to professional societies and organizations and is the past President of the Academy of Science of South Africa. He was the Chair of the National Research Foundation Evaluation Appeals Committee and was Chair of the Board of the National Research Foundation for a term. He has published more than 130 articles in refereed journals, 15 articles in journals for beekeepers, 3 book chapters and has made numerous contributions at scientific conferences. His current research is focused on chemical communication and social organization in honeybees and ants, particularly with respect to worker reproductive regulation. He is a member of the Social Insects Research Group (SIRG) in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria where the main thrust of the work is on honeybee social organization and on the assessment of the impact of honeybee diseases on indigenous populations of honeybees.
He supervised or co-supervised 20 doctoral students and 15 masters students. In addition, nine post-doctoral fellows have work in his laboratory. He has a B1 rating from the National Research Foundation indicating that his work has achieved considerable international recognition.He is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), a founding member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, a fellow of the African Academy of Science and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society of South Africa. The French Government granted him the Ordre National du Mérite with the rank of Chevalier in 2006. He was awarded the ASSAf Gold Medal for meritorious service.