[ExI] bees again

spike spike66 at att.net
Sat Nov 17 14:20:45 UTC 2012

Cool!  I was aware that Europeans brought honeybees to North America, but I
didn't know that pumpkins depend on them for pollination.  I should have
been able to figure it out, since they have those big flowers.  This comment
was posted on one of my bee groups:


The BUZZ: No Pumpkin Pie

Did you know that honeybees are not native to North America? Honeybees (Apis
mellifera) have been tended since ancient times in Europe and the Middle
East, but were first brought to the Americas on ships to provide honey and
candle wax. 

So, when the pilgrims sat down to their first Thanksgiving dinner in the
autumn of 1621, there was no honey on the table. And, there was no pumpkin
pie. In fact, there were none of the bee-pollinated foods that have become
part of the holiday tradition, like cranberries or apples. 

The first recorded arrival of honeybees in North America was one year later
in 1622 when hives were brought ashore at the Virginia colony. The
honeybees, stressed from their sea voyage, readily took to the pollen and
nectar afforded by the Spring meadows and forests of the new colony. Some
swarmed off and went feral, making their way deeper into the American

Native Americans knew their native bees, but did not have a word for the
honeybees which they noticed arriving just before the settlement of
Europeans. Some tribes called them the "White Man's Fly." It would be more
than 200 years later in the mid 19th century before honeybees arrived on the
West Coast and Hawaii either by migration west or by ship. Since then, both
honeybees and native bees have co-existed, offering the benefit of
pollinating our food and maintaining the balance of natural areas. In fact,
one of the most iconic foods on our Thanksgiving tables, the cranberry,
relies on pollinators to set fruit. It's estimated that only about half of
the blooms in modern cranberry bogs set fruit, and depend on the honey bee
and a few species of native bees to do the job. 

Pollination is also essential for pumpkins. In fact, there are some species
of bee that specialize in pumpkin and squash pollen for survival. Their
range matched that of the native squash plants the bees depended on for
food. The squashes and pumpkins couldn't reproduce without help from those
particular bees. They depend on each other.


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