Happy 4th of July! Every year when Independence day comes around we harken back to the revolution and the work our founding fathers accomplished to bring us to where we are today. We also celebrate waving the flag, throwing red, white and blue everywhere. The spirit of independence has definitely shaped America but in all of our celebrations we would be remiss without a bit of history about the honey bee that our founding fathers and the colonists introduced to the land!
Yes the humble, hard working, honey bee was introduced to the land by the colonists. In the article, “Honey Bees Not Native to North America,” author Tom Turpin illustrates this fact. The bees were first known to the Native Americans as the ‘white man’s fly’ because they appeared at the time of the settlers. In fact as westward expansion happened the Native Americans could predict the settlers traveling through as the bees would be seen before the settlers.
Both our first and third presidents knew the importance of honey bees. Yes, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who are known for their service to our early nation both kept bees. Washington’s Mt. Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello had many gardens and the owners knew the keeping bees.
Lets also not forget a good ol’ American saying, “As American as apple pie.” Similar to our honey bee friend, the apple, was also brought over by the colonists. Bees and apples have a rather symbiotic relationship as the bees need the apples flowers to make honey and the apple tree needs the bee for pollination.
The next time you find yourself thinking “That’s as American as apple pie” remember that without our honey bees there would be no apple pie. So as you watch the fireworks and fly your red, white, and blue to celebrate our independence day honoring our founders don’t forget to tip your cap to the honey bee this Fourth of July!