Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation

Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation

Tammy Horn

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0813191637

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


" Honey bees―and the qualities associated with them―have quietly influenced American values for four centuries. During every major period in the country's history, bees and beekeepers have represented order and stability in a country without a national religion, political party, or language. Bees in America is an enlightening cultural history of bees and beekeeping in the United States. Tammy Horn, herself a beekeeper, offers a varied social and technological history from the colonial period, when the British first introduced bees to the New World, to the present, when bees are being used by the American military to detect bombs. Early European colonists introduced bees to the New World as part of an agrarian philosophy borrowed from the Greeks and Romans. Their legacy was intended to provide sustenance and a livelihood for immigrants in search of new opportunities, and the honey bee became a sign of colonization, alerting Native Americans to settlers' westward advance. Colonists imagined their own endeavors in terms of bees' hallmark traits of industry and thrift and the image of the busy and growing hive soon shaped American ideals about work, family, community, and leisure. The image of the hive continued to be popular in the eighteenth century, symbolizing a society working together for the common good and reflecting Enlightenment principles of order and balance. Less than a half-century later, Mormons settling Utah (where the bee is the state symbol) adopted the hive as a metaphor for their protected and close-knit culture that revolved around industry, harmony, frugality, and cooperation. In the Great Depression, beehives provided food and bartering goods for many farm families, and during World War II, the War Food Administration urged beekeepers to conserve every ounce of beeswax their bees provided, as more than a million pounds a year were being used in the manufacture of war products ranging from waterproofing products to tape. The bee remains a bellwether in modern America. Like so many other insects and animals, the bee population was decimated by the growing use of chemical pesticides in the 1970s. Nevertheless, beekeeping has experienced a revival as natural products containing honey and beeswax have increased the visibility and desirability of the honey bee. Still a powerful representation of success, the industrious honey bee continues to serve both as a source of income and a metaphor for globalization as America emerges as a leader in the Information Age.

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Szabo, “Principles of Successfully Overwintering,” 879. 93. Ibid., 877. 94. Bill Weaver and Mary Weaver, “How to Overwinter,” 875. 95. Paul Salstrom, Appalachia’s Path to Dependency, 96. 96. Charles Lesher, “North Dakota Sojourn—Part II.” 97. Miller, Sweet Journey, 84. 98. Glenn Gibson, “Washington Scene: End of an Era,” 475. 99. Roger Morse, “The Price of Honey,” 366. 100. Cache County was the same place that N. E. Miller established his beekeeping operation. 101. Carol Edison,

to Keep Them (94). 144. Darlene Hine, William Hine, and Stanley Harrold, African Americans: A Concise History, 366. 145. Ibid., 303. 146. Robert Gordon, Can’t Be Satisfied, 67. 147. Glenn Gibson, “Washington Scene: End of an Era,” Bee Culture 144, no. 9 (1986): 475. 148. Bill Wilson, “45 Years of Foulbrood” (2000). Available at: http://www.beeculture.com. 149. Ibid. 150. Jane Black, “Enlisting Insects in the Military,” Business Week Online, Nov. 5, 2001, http://web25.epnet.com (accessed

508–9. Moffett, Joseph. “Powers Apiaries, Inc., of Parma, Idaho.” Bee Culture, April 1980, 201. Moffett, Joseph. Some Beekeepers and Associates. Stillwater, Okla.: Frontier, 1979. Monopolist, Anti-Bee. “A Stinger: The Trade in Bee Courses—a Protest against the Bee Convention—How the Bee Business Used to Be.” Pittsburgh Leader, Nov. 13, 1874, 1–2. Mooney, James. “Myths of the Cherokee.” Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1898. Moore, Pamela. “David and Goliath: Does Big Government

became the default sweetener, as often had been the case during wars. Physician Bodok Beck estimated that prewar prices for extracted honey cost five cents a pound, but during World War I, “honey sold in carlots from twenty to twenty-five cents a pound.”27 An article in a 1916 Bee Culture discusses the importance of honey in the European trenches: “The war lords in Europe, when it came to the matter of rations, soon discovered that honey, an energy producer, was much cheaper than sugar (also an

would respond to higher elevations, she went to Costa Rica in 1984. Interestingly enough, in her studies she learned that African bees adjusted quite well to higher elevations and that the Costa Rican people adjusted quite well to the African bees. In fact, the biggest problem associated with the African bee, it seems, is that Costa Rican people did not have the proper equipment such as bee veils and suits. Meanwhile, a pest management system used in a variety of other agricultural crops and

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