The honey bee is an introduced species in North America. It’s only been here about 400 years, brought by English colonists who found none after stumbling ashore and then promptly put in an order with their backers back home.
The honey bee, more properly known as the European honey bee, took to its new home, spreading across the continent faster than its keepers. Thomas Jefferson, an astute observer of nature if there ever was one, wrote that Native Americans called them “the white man’s fly.”
Bee colonies thrived in hollow trees as well as in hollow logs called “bee gums” (later bee hives) kept by beekeepers. Thrived, that is, until recently, when wild honeybee populations crashed. Of several contributing factors, the main one is undoubtedly Varroa destructor, a bloodsucking mite native to Asia.. Like a tiny eight-legged vampire, the pencil point-sized red mite latches onto a bee and sucks its hemolymph (the bee version of blood) while spreading debilitating viruses. The mite’s introduction in the mid 1990s caused a crisis in American beekeeping and swept wild colonies from the woods. » Continue Reading.