image courtesy kokogiak

An Amazing Thing I Just Learned about Honey Bees

Posted by A69143a5 tiny Jen Messier on jan 19, 2012 under Class Recap

The other night, I was sitting in on Tim's Beekeeping 101 class when he mentioned that prior to 1622 or so, there weren't any honey bees in North America. Yeah, that's right. 

Europeans brought them upon emigrating, and though they hit the East Coast early, it took over 200 years for them to get all the way to California. One colonist, John Eliot, even says that Native Americans referred to honeybees as the "white man's fly."

The relatively recent arrival of honeybees over here struck me as a really neat thing, and when I mentioned it on Twitter, someone asked a very, very good question: before that, how did things get pollinated?!

The internet can tell us the answer!

As it turns out, just because there weren't honey bees, doesn't mean there weren't other types of bees flying about. There are about 4,000 types of native North American bees, and they handled most of the pollination duties around the continent. Native bees are still much better at pollinating plants native to this continent, like blueberries and pumpkins, and there are still some things honey bees can't pollinate at all, like tomato and eggplant flowers. Neat

Further reads/sources:
Honey Bees Across America - lots of history
Bee Basics Book - this is all about native bees, and it is awesome!

Tagged with beekeeping honey bees north america

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