BEES AND THE REVOLUTION
The bees have generally extended themselves into the coun-
try, a little in advance of the white settlers. The Indians there-
fore call them the white man’s fly, and consider their approach
as indicating the approach of the settlements of the whites.
—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785
Eighteenth-century America is noted for three interrelated but complex processes: European immigration, frontier migration, and political independence from England. Just as eighteenth-century American society was an intersection of ethnicities, so too was the honey bee a symbol for intersecting, and at times conflicting, values. European immigration had continued unabated since 1683. Anxious to throw off the yoke of statesponsored religions, many Protestant groups—Moravians, Quakers, Lutherans, Separatists—continued to arrive from Germany and England. These European immigrants brought beekeeping skills. As they continued westward from Pennsylvania into Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, they took their skeps and bee gums with them.
Although many immigrants kept bees in straw skeps, many frontiersmen were honey hunters. North America offered vast, healthy forests with few government restraints. Even Native Americans incorporated