Local environmental advocates in Missouri raise awareness of the strong link between bees and Thanksgiving dinner
With Thanksgiving season upon us, environmental advocates, including Environment Missouri, outlined the many contributions that bees make toward the traditional holiday meal. They also used the occasion to raise awareness of the decline in bees across the country.
Pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and other staples wouldn’t be possible without pollinators. Most Americans find these foods delicious, and their key ingredients provide a balanced diet for Americans. Overall, bees are responsible for one-in-three bites of food we eat.
Thanksgiving is the time when we come together with family and friends to give thanks. Bees rank at the top of the list of items we should be thankful for because of all the foods they provide. Without bees, our dinner tables would lack the hearty and colorful dishes that we always return to.
Habitat loss, climate change, and pesticide use threaten the well-being of thousands of native bee species and the familiar honey bee. More than half of native bee species in North America are likely in decline and beekeepers last year reported losing 45.5 percent of their honey bee colonies, the second-highest annual loss rate on record. In addition to helping create bountiful harvests, bees are an important part of healthy ecosystems in Missouri due to the numerous species that rely on them for food and pollination.
“Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Missouri. We are thankful for the providers of our food on this holiday, including our urban and family farms, “said Rep. Emily Weber. “One thing that we don’t thank enough around Thanksgiving are the bees. Bees are essential pollinators for many of the foods we enjoy with our family and friends. In order to support our farmers, Missourians should continue the support of our pollinating population.”
Environment Missouri encouraged Missourians to plant native flowering plants in yards and gardens, skip pesticides wherever possible, consider purchasing organic foods, and urge decision-makers to go the extra mile to protect bees and pollinators.
The list of Thanksgiving-related foods that reach our table that are either fully or partially pollinated by bees (or have bee-pollinated ingredients) include: apples, pumpkins, cranberries, onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, coffee, ice cream, and other dairy foods (cows eat alfalfa).
As we sip some mulled apple cider this year, we should mull over all that we can do to save the bees. Whether that’s planting pollinator habitat in the spring, a New Year’s resolution to reduce pesticide use starting in the winter, or calling our elected officials to take action at any time of year, we can address some of the hardest felt challenges bees are facing right here in Missouri.
Bridget Sanderson is the state director for Environment Missouri.