Early civilizations quickly mastered honey hunting skills, as shown in rock art in Africa, India and Spain. Centuries later, Christian monasteries and convents served as apiculture centers. But it took European wars, poverty, land laws and religious persecution to bring honeybees to North America.
According to 1493 : uncovering the new world Columbus created by Charles C. Mann, honeybees were brought to North America in the 17th century by European colonists for their honey. Their proficiency at pollination was a world-changing byproduct.
… the biggest ecological impact may have been wreaked by a much smaller domestic animal: the European honeybee. In early 1622 a ship arrived in James loaded with exotic entities: grapevines, silkworms, and bees. The grapes and silkworms never amounted to much, but the bee thrived. Most bees pollinate only a few plant species and tend to be fussy about where they live. But European honeybees, promiscuous little beasts, pollinate almost anything in sight and reside almost anywhere. Quickly they set up shop throughout the Americas. Indians called them English flies.
The English imported bees for honey, not to help their crops — pollination wasn’t discovered until the mid-eighteenth century — but feral honeybees pollinated farms and orchards anyway. Without them, many of the plants Europeans brought with them wouldn’t have proliferated. Georgia probably would not have become the Peach State; Johnny Appleseed’s trees might never have borne fruit; Huckleberry Finn might not have had any watermelons to steal. So critical to European success was the honeybee that Indians came to view it as a harbinger of invasion; the first sight of a bee in a new territory, the French-American writer Jean de Crevecoeur noted in 1782, “spreads sadness and consternation in all minds.”
Over the next two centuries, English colonists took bees to New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania, completing human-assisted migration of Apis mellifera around the globe.
Beekeeping became commercially viable during the 19th century with four inventions: the movable-frame hive, the smoker, the comb foundation maker, and the honey extractor.
Read More —>> Importance of Honeybee to modern agriculture