...and has been one of the victims of the systematic erasure of the contributions of Black farmers from the records of history. I believe that there is immense power in the reconnection of this African diasporic insect and the African diasporic peoples in the Americas. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reclaim this relationship and share it with all of my communities.
It is unsettling that a google search of the history of African American beekeepers turns up almost nothing. History tells us that the "European" Honey Bee was brought to this continent by way of the Virginian colony in 1622, shortly after the first enslaved African peoples arrived in Virginia in 1619. The enslaved peoples of Africa were the force behind most of the agriculture in what would become America. The conclusion that enslaved Africans were beekeepers in North America is self evident.
The relationship of African Americans and bees is deeper still. The domestic honeybee widespread across the globe, including America is known as the European Honeybee although science confirms that this bee originated on the African continent. In fact the earliest depictions of domesticated bees are hieroglyphs in ancient Egypt. And the traditions are still alive — ancestral beekeeping is an ancient practice carried out by tribes in Kenya such as the Kamba, Maasai, Samburu, and Mbeere. As Black people of the African diaspora, we deserve our relationship as stewards of this diasporic pollinator to be recognized historically, and to be integral participants in the field of beekeeping today. It bears repeating that there is immense power in the reconnection of this African diasporic insect, and the African diasporic peoples in the Americas.