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November 21, 2016

Five Dishes on Your Thanksgiving Table That You’ll Miss Without Bees

An OMCA curator on why we should be thankful for these insects this November

By Sarah Seiter, Associate Curator of Natural Sciences

If you’re trying think of things to be grateful for this holiday season, why not add bees to your list? These fuzzy insects are pollinating powerhouses, and without them we could potentially lose up to a third of our food supply. Here are five Thanksgiving dishes that we enjoy thanks to bees.

1. Cranberry relish. Over forty species of bees, including honeybees and bumblebees pollinate cranberry plants. Cranberry plants sometimes take several visits from a bee in order to transfer enough pollen to and ensure good fruit development.  

2. Pumpkin pie. Squash bees, bumblebees, and honeybees are responsible for producing our pumpkins. But that’s not all—many pumpkin pie spices are made from bee-pollinated plants— including vanilla and cardamom. If you want to top your pie with whipped cream, you need bees for that too. Cows also feed on bee pollinated alfalfa plants, so we need bees to produce milk.

3. Roasted Veggies. Bees are needed for lots of roasted veggies including butternut squash (squash bees), or carrots.

4. Green bean casserole. Some bean species are needier than others, but most types of beans need some kind of pollination by bees.  

5. Apple Pie. Mason bees and honeybees work together to pollinate our apple trees, which depend on bees to produce their fruit. Cinnamon plants are also pollinated by a variety of insects including bees. 

 

Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact is on view in the Gallery of California Natural Sciences through October 2017.