You Can Thank Bees for Your Thanksgiving Feast

Let's give a big, buzzing shout out to our favorite pollinators this Thanksgiving—bees!    

Believe it or not, a majority of the tasty foods that make up our drool-worthy Thanksgiving dinners exist solely because of work done by the bees. It's shocking to see how much of the traditional Thanksgiving feast would disappear if we lost our buzzing friends. Here are some faves that wouldn't make it to the table...    

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkins are practically synonymous with Thanksgiving, but they wouldn't last long if bees weren't around. Pumpkin and other squash can be challenging to pollinate, so they have to rely on the pollination prowess of native squash bees, who are legit squash blossom specialists. If we lost our bees, especially our at-risk native species, pumpkin pie would be no more.       

More of an apple pie kind of person? Sorry, bees are responsible for pollinating apples, too. And when it comes to pecan pie, while bees aren't entirely crucial for the survival of pecan trees, they are pretty darn important (they drastically increase crop yield). Pretty much, if you love pie, you should love bees.         

Wine

That's right, there'd be way less good wine at the table without help from bees. Some of you might be thinking 'hey, wait a minute, bees don't pollinate grapes!' and you're right. (Guess all those Jeopardy! reruns on Netflix have paid off.) Vineyards rely heavily on wind pollination—not bees. But that doesn't mean that bees aren't crucial to the health of the wine industry, especially when it comes to biodynamic wines.    

Bees actually play a huge role in the health of the vineyard ecosystem. They pollinate the crops planted in between the rows of grapes—encouraging the health of nitrogen fixers that promote a rich, balanced soil for the grape vines. They also encourage a healthy and diverse insect ecosystem, which naturally helps with unwanted pest management. Bees are actually pretty crucial to keeping a balanced vineyard ecosystem, which is why many vineyards keep their own hives.           

Stuffing

Without our little buzzers, your favorite stuffing recipe would become little more than a batch of salted and rehydrated bread crumbs. All the onions, herbs, and spices that make stuffing so tasty would disappear if we didn’t have bees around to pollinate them. Sure, you could just resort to eating stale, soaked bread crumbs—or we could save the bees and enjoy all the glorious flavors Thanksgiving has to offer! 

Sweet potato casserole   

Bees are actually pretty important for root veggies, too. Sweet potato flowers must be pollinated, and the bees are pretty much the only ones who are up to the task. Just think—a Thanksgiving feast without creamy sweet potatoes is nearly unimaginable!    

Other popular Thanksgiving essentials that might disappear from our holiday tables if we lost the bees include:        

  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Squash
  • Green beans  
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower 
  • Nuts  
  • Carrots  
  • Onions 
  • Herbs 
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranates 
  • Coffee
  • Vanilla  

Credit where credit is due—without bees, our Thanksgiving feasts would become little more than a table full of turkey, buttered dinner rolls, and gravy. (Actually even turkeys primarily graze on seeds, fruits, and grains that wouldn’t exist without bees. And dairy cows graze on bee-reliant alfalfa, so butter production would suffer, too.) The only reason we have anything on our tables at Thanksgiving is because of the bees. They are that important.      

So this Thanksgiving, join us in giving a big ol' thanks to our little buzzing friends. Without them, the best part of the festivities just wouldn't be the same.