Ether 2:3. Jaredite Bees

Ether 2:3. Jaredite Bees

The Book of Mormon notes that the Jaredites brought honey bees with them from their homeland (Ether 2:3). But the honeybee was actually brought to the New World after the arrival of Europeans.

Book of Mormon SpanishThe Book of Mormon never says that the Jaredites brought bees with them to the New World, only that they carried them during their Old World travels. They spent “many years . . . in the wilderness” (Ether 3:3) and lived four years on the seashore before constructing barges to bring them across the ocean (see Ether 2:13-14). Since these barges were enclosed structures, it would have been unwise to bring stinging insects with them. Moreover, during the 344-day ocean voyage, the bees would have had no access to the blossoms that nourish them (see Ether 6:11).

But that there were bees in precolumbian America is beyond question. Over half a dozen species of the stingless honey bee (meliponidae) were domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples of Mesoamerica, notably the Olmecs and the Maya.[i]The assertion that there were no honeybees in pre-Columbian America is wholly without foundation.


[i] Herbert F. Schwarz, “Stingless bees (Meliponidae) of the Western Hemisphere,” American Museum of natural History Bulletin 90 (1948): 143-60, bibliography 504-36; F. Padilla, F. Puerta, J. M. Flores, and M. Bustos, “Bees, Apiculture and the New World,” in Archivos de zoot√©cnica, 41/154 (1992-extra): 563-7; Michael Coe, America’s First Civilization (New York: American Heritage Publishing Company, 1968), 26; Ignacio Bernal, The Olmec World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), 20.