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  1. #1
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    Default White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    In order to not go too off topic in a different thread, I thought I'd start a new one. Below is a comment I made and a reply:

    Quote Originally Posted by byron View Post
    America may in fact be the land of milk and honey, but it's only because Europeans brought the cows and the bees.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The Indians all agree the cows were not here and the horses were not here. I have not heard any of them say the bees were not here.

    I have tried to trace the "White man's flies" story. I can go back through Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and that traces back to Thomas Jefferson. All references seem to trace back to one of these two and Longfellow traces back to Jefferson. But I can find no link back to American Indians, although both claim one. I have found no tribes with that name for a honey bee. All of them I know I can find have a name for Honey bee that is not like the made up names for "wasicu" things like "horse" and "camel" and other things that were foreign. They are just a name. And they have words for honey and beeswax.

    But that is a different discussion.
    I'm curious which tribes you found that had names for honey and beeswax.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    In another thread I made a comment about the Walker County, Alabama Red Neck Tribe(Choctaw) not being considered nobel savages, but it was delete by a culturally challenged modrator, so I ain't repeating here!
    Last edited by jrbbees; 06-18-2011 at 03:13 AM.
    Old Guy in Alabama

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    I'm Lakota and one of our words for bee is "wichayazipa". Beeswax is "wichayazipa wigli" which means literally "bees fat". Bumble bee is Wichayazipa hinsma. Honey bee is "wichayazipa thunkce" which can also mean honey bee. That is as opposed to words like "wichayazipa zi" (yellow jacket) and "chanhanpi" (sugar).

    I ask people from other tribes all the time, and have always gotten similar results. They have words for bees, honey and beeswax that are not made up words like the words for monkey or cow or horse. For instance the word for monkey translates "dog man" (shunka wicasa) and horse is "great dog" (shunkawakan) and cow is "female meat" (pte win) while the word for a buffalo cow changed from "female meat" to "real female meat" (pte winyelo). These are made up names.

    I don't know if bees were here already or for how long but some Spanish writings from the 1500s say that honey bees that looked identical to the ones in Spain were native and they go into great detail about all the bees (stingless and otherwise) and hornets and wasps they identified. Possibly the honey bee escaped much earlier from Spanish settlers than people thought or possibly the Chinese brought them back when they colonized California. But I don't think it's a cut and dried thing as it is commonly presented.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Acourding to Gabriel Nieto; "Of the more than 20,000 bee species in the world, including native species, 2,000 are native to Mexico and depend on specific local weather, vegetation and forest conditions. The main differences between the honey produced by Western and native species of honeybee are in flavour, production capacity and colony size.

    Honeybees native to Mexico form groups of between one and five thousand worker bees, while colonies of Apis mellifera range from 30,000 to 50,000 in size (hence their importance in pollination).

    Native species are easier to handle given that many of them do not sting. This way, small-scale beekeeping is less problematic for communities and cooperatives who rely on the income from resultant products that are distributed in food stores and sold to pharmaceutical and cosmetic firms. However, most of Mexico’s economic activity in the sector is concentrated on Western beekeeping.

    Rémy Vandame is a researcher specializing in bees at Mexico’s El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR). ECOSUR’s activities include research about bees’ current situation in Mexico, including risks and new constraints affecting their health and ecosystems. According to Vandame, Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture has focused its actions on the establishment of bee health programs (for example, to eradicate pests like the Varroa mite, named as a contributing cause of CCD) and to date the results have been positive.

    However, as Vandame points out, many challenges still exist.

    “The main challenge [for Mexico] is to transfer public resources into conservation activities and nursing native species.”

    Vandame recommends that activities include cataloguing native species, over which government agencies have traditionally had no control, and determining the extent to which these species are being affected by global warming.

    Furthermore, Vandame believes that the National Forestry Agency needs to focus more on protecting ecosystems as a whole. Reflecting this need, ECOSUR’s future work will centre around evaluating overall land use, strengthening institutional frameworks and establishing policies on agrochemical use that preserve, rather than disturb, natural vegetation."

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Some more information I found;

    The true honey bee was not native to the Americas. Prior to Columbus, people in Central and South America collected honey from bees known as "stingless bees." Although stingless bees do actually lack a stinger, they are not completely defenseless. They can inflict painful bites with their mandibles. They also do not produce honey in the same quantity as A. mellifera.

    In the early part of the 16th century, the Spanish brought over the first honey bee colonies. English colonists did the same and soon honey bees had escaped into the wild and were buzzing all over North America. In some cases, the honey bees travelled in advance of the European settlers and came in contact with Native American tribes, who dubbed them "white man's flies." By the time the frontier had been settled, late in the 19th century, honey bees were regarded as a natural part of the insect world in North America.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I'm Lakota and one of our words for bee is "wichayazipa". Beeswax is "wichayazipa wigli" which means literally "bees fat". Bumble bee is Wichayazipa hinsma. Honey bee is "wichayazipa thunkce" which can also mean honey bee. That is as opposed to words like "wichayazipa zi" (yellow jacket) and "chanhanpi" (sugar).
    When did these real words come into the language? Was chanhanpi produced and used before Europeans cultivated and processed sugar cane?

    There are lots and lots of apis type insects native to the Americas, but, it seems like some seem to be saying that apis mellifera existed here before Europeans brought it w/ them. Seems like a silly thing for Europeans to do, if there were already honeybees here like the ones they had back home. Not that sillier things weren't done. Just that those boats that they trtaveled on were hardly large enuf to be called ships.

    Interesting topic.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    An argument can be made that honeybees originated in North Africa and spread throughout Europe, parts of Asia, and Africa. During the ice ages, they were forced back closer to the equator, then re-colonized after the ice melted. There is plenty of evidence of viking settlements on the east coast of North America dating back 1000 years or more, however, there is no evidence the vikings brought honeybees. There are plenty of ship manifests showing that honeybees were brought from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    One thing that can be done is a genetic study to find where the highest level of genetic diversity for honeybees exists.

    Regardless of when they arrived, there is no doubt in my mind that honeybees were brought over from Europe and/or Asia.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    I think the point that Michael Bush was making is that when new things were introduced, one frequently finds conglomerate simile words or terms. When there is an indigenous example, the words or terms are not patched together from familiar concepts. To his list, allow me to offer an example form my own language, Mvskoke (Creek). Horse is eco-rakko which translates to deer big, or big deer when you account for the reverse placement of the modifier. For monkey, we have wotko-este, translating to racoon man, or racoon person. Honey bee is fo. A drone is fo-ue-cawv. A queen is fo-em-mek-ko. Honey comb or bee hive is fo-hute.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    ....There are lots and lots of apis type insects native to the Americas, but, it seems like some seem to be saying that apis mellifera existed here before Europeans brought it w/ them. Seems like a silly thing for Europeans to do, if there were already honeybees here like the ones they had back home.
    Perhaps the situation compares to that of the earthworm. There are many types of earthworms native to North America, but their distribution within the US was affected by the last Ice Age. When the European colonists arrived on the shores of the northeastern states, they found no earthworms and therefore simply imported their variety from home. (Unfortunately, their choice is now resulting in the slow destruction of the northern forests as the "gardener's friend" slowly moves into the forests that had been generated without the voracious appetites of worms.)

    Is it possible that, while various forms of native honeybees existed in pre-European days, (a 14 million year old fossil of a honeybee was discovered in the southwest recenty,) the colonists simply desired the larger or the more vigorous or the more productive honeybee that they had left behind?

    It doesn't seem a stretch to think that the "white man's flies" were easily recognizable by the first residents as simply being different (larger, more numerous, etc.) from the honeybees they were used to seeing. I wouldn't assume to read into it anything more than that, or stretch the point to say these were the first honeybees they ever saw. Perhaps they were simply different and, correctly, linked to the arrival of Europeans?

    My speculations. You can find ample reference to the honeybee fossil, however. It has even been disussed here on Beesource a couple of years ago, when the paper was published.

    Wayne

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    I'd think that the native americans were already very familiar with bees so there would be no reason for them to call them anything else but 'bee' in their own language.

    'white man's fly' sounds like a european american using artisitic license in their writing.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Very interesting responses. I have found that it has been documented to have taken 231 years for honey bees brought to the East Coast by Europeans to reach the West Coast. Some may have been brought here earlier and made it to California/Oregon earlier, but as far as what we can prove... "brought to the east coast of North America in 1622 it would be 231 years before the honey bee reached the west coast. Disease, hostile competitors, harsh climates, and geographical barriers blocked the advance of honey bee and human alike."

    http://www.orsba.org/htdocs/download...20America.html


    The 14 million year old fossil in Nevada is interesting, but we have to remember that fossils of many things from then can be found, but that doesn't mean they were still here when humans came. Lemurs were here, but now exist only in Madagascar, for example.

    Indians having a word for "bees, honey, wax" is also interesting, but we have to remember a few things:

    Sometimes Indians used European words for things, sometimes not. Sometimes they did the "made up" words thing, like someone mentioned, sometimes not. Lots of times people were probably clueless about the real meaning, but it sticks. For example, Adirondack means "bark eater" and was an insult for certain tribes in upstate New York who barely made it through winter without starving. There is a tribe in Florida who still call themselves the Miccosukee, even though that's Spanish for "dirty monkey," which is what the Europeans called them after seeing how they lived.

    We also know that once we brought the bees to this country, swarms moved ahead faster than we could, in most cases. It has been documented that bees would arrive before settlers, so it is probable that in some cases Indians saw honey bees before they saw their first white man. It would make sense that those particular Indians might have thought up a name for honey and bees all by themselves.

    "Records left by Thomas Jefferson and others inform us that the advancing bee front was often 100 to 200 miles ahead of civilized outposts." (http://www.worldandischool.com/publi...ource16203.asp)

    and would even show up 5-10 miles ahead of a wagon train on the move. (http://www.on-a-limb.com/2009/04/thu...out-honeybees/)

    We also know that there were literally hundreds of different languages spoken by the various bands of hunters and gatherers in this country, it's impossible to say there was or was not an "Indian" word for this or that. Many tribes probably saw horses before they ever saw white men, due to herds being released or escaping and proliferating on their own. So in some cases they had to invent their own word, in others they asked the whites what these creatures were and adopted that word into their own language.

    Looking up Indian language is also problematic since there aren't written histories of anything, and even their modern dictionaries can only be but so accurate since none of them developed their own alphabet independent of whites.
    Last edited by byron; 06-18-2011 at 11:44 AM.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by jrbbees View Post
    ...[snipped].... but it was delete by a ...[snipped]...modrator, so I ain't repeating here!
    Is there anything positive that you can add about honeybees in the Choctaw heritage to this discussion?

    Not sure if your post is supposed to be funny or racist or what, but it has nothing to do with bees. I'm sure a moderator will be by shortly to explain the consequences of challenging moderation publically. It's spelled out in the few rules we are expected to follow, but we all make our own choices.

    Now, back to the bee discussion.

    Wayne

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    ...'white man's fly' sounds like a european american using artisitic license in their writing.
    Perhaps but no more so than "bark eater" for example. (As a former Adirondack resident, I've been interested in the discussion of the word Adirondack among Native Americans in the region. No language seems to claim "Adirondack," though it seems like an Anglicized version of a Mohawk phrase for "they eat bark.") So, precise translations over time and the actual pronunciation of the original word or phrase is often blurred.

    As for the need for a new term if a word or phrase for honeybee already existed, perhaps, like "bark eater," it was, as it sounds, just a term of derision for the different bees brought to the land by European invaders.

    Wayne

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by waynesgarden View Post

    As for the need for a new term if a word or phrase for honeybee already existed, perhaps, like "bark eater," it was, as it sounds, just a term of derision for the different bees brought to the land by European invaders.
    Hmmm, maybe. But of course most "natives" didn't refer to whites derisively, nor were whites considered invaders at the time. At the time of first contact, most "natives" were in awe of us and the advantages our possessions would bring them.

    Luckily we have science toinform us, as oral legends should never be relied on, without actual facts to back them up, for several reasons. For one thing, expecting Indians today to know whether honey bees were here before the modern wave of Old World settlers arrived is unrealistic. They have no written records. What they consider to be legend could easily be no older than a few centuries. People can also be self serving when developing their own history. Ethnic chauvinism led Chinese officials to hide dozens of Western blond/red haired mummies discovered to have settled in China thousands of years before we were thought to have been there. They were embarrassed to be confronted with the thought that Westerners actually spread civilization to China.

    Oral traditions have often been disproved by good science in the case of "native Americans." There are many instances of tribes claiming that they were never warlike, never engaged in cannibalism, only to have archeologists find burial pits revealing massacres and cannibalism occurring repeatedly. Tribes are also notorious for claiming to have been the sole inhabitants of a particular area, only to have anthropologists and archeologists prove them to be relative newcomers who slaughtered the original inhabitants. Some of this is honest ignorance, some is selective recollections, etc...

    It is currently fashionable to say that Indians are the original inhabitants of the country, and their oral traditions, many of them, like to say that they were here since time began, and that they lived at one with each other and their surroundings until mean whites came here with bad things. We are now finding that, of course, humans are not only not indigenous to this continent and all came from many different places, but that all of the oldest skeletal remains found in North America are Caucasian and predate the earliest known Indians by thousands of years.

    All of that to say, luckily we can depend on science and not verbal legends to guide us. Neither honey bees nor beekeeping can be found to have existed before Europeans brought them here.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by byron View Post
    but that all of the oldest skeletal remains found in North America are Caucasian and predate the earliest known Indians by thousands of years.
    Really? I am not aware of that. Maybe I have some dates mixed up. Can you please tell us more about that?

    On the Mohawk Reservation, near here, Akwesasne, I sell honey to the First Americans IGA. Now we can argue semantics and who was here first and all, but,I would think that those people who inhabited a place before someoine else came along and did so for centuries would be the most Native to that land. Whether, historically, their ancestors came from another land or not.

    I know lots of Americans of Anglo-Saxon origin who consider themselves native to our country. Are they? Or are they Naturally Born Citizens? Just to parse a little.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    I'm going to guess the answer lies in the 9,300 year old Kennewick Man, an individual whose remains were found in the state of Washington that has some caucasion features but who is said to more closely resemble an ethnic group still surviving in Japan. I haven't seen anyone seriously suggesting Europeans were the first settlers except some unsavory groups, but that is tailgater fodder.

    The thread is getting really off topic for a bee forum so I'll ask, why didn't these Caucasions bring their bees along with them?

    Wayne

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Kennewick Man

    That's just one of a few prehistoric remains of putative caucasians living in north america over 10.000 years ago.

    I don't think that they were beekeepers though.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Kennewick Man......I don't think that they were beekeepers though.
    No, probably not. Just trying hard to stay on topic.

    Wayne

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by byron View Post
    ... Looking up Indian language is also problematic since there aren't written histories of anything, and even their modern dictionaries can only be but so accurate since none of them developed their own alphabet independent of whites.
    I don't know if you consider the alphabet introduced by Sequoyah (who never learned to read, or write English) a knock off of the Greek, Roman or English alphabets but the Cherokee alphabet employs 85 or so characters and yes many characters do some what resemble the Greek or Roman alphabet but most represent different sounds. Supposedly when Sequoyah introduced his syllabary, a majority of the Cherokee Nation learned to read and write Cherokee in less than a year. However, for his pains Sequoyah’s own people branded his face and head, sliced off his ears, and to discourage further witch craft concerning an alphabet they chopped off his fingers.

    The English word for correspondence translates into literal Cherokee as, "talking leaves."
    Use the following link to translate the English word ‘bee’ into Cherokee to see how the Cherokee alphabet differs from the English alphabet. http://www.wehali.com/tsalagi/index.cfm?event=search

    As a result of this thread I now better understand the longstanding German fascination with American cowboy and Indian culture. The German language is famous in its own right for creating "compound" nouns to describe new things. As an example, hospital in English, translates into the German as Krakenhaus or sick house that makes Krakenwagen or sick car/truck, mean ambulance in English. Slap an umlaut over the first a in the German word for sick Kraken, and you have a new German word the noun Kräken, the English equivalent of injury or hurt. The German word Staubsauger translates into literal English as dust sucker, meaning vacuum cleaner. I can see why ‘white man’s fly’ could be used by Indians to describe a new insect, like the honey bee. Now do you think composer Richard Wagner’s Siegfried and Brünnhilde were modeled on Native Americans???
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 06-18-2011 at 03:57 PM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

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    Default Re: White Man's Flies--Bees in America

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Kennewick Man

    That's just one of a few prehistoric remains of putative caucasians living in north america over 10.000 years ago.
    Aren't Clovis tools and artifacts dated back 15,000 years?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

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