What would a traditional Thanksgiving meal be without squash soup garnished
with pumpkin seeds, Brussels sprouts with honey mustard or apple pie with walnuts and cranberries? Honeybees pollinate these and many other foods including oranges, chestnuts and even our cotton table cloths and napkins. According to The American Bee Federation, honeybee pollination contributes $14 billion to the production of crops that includes an eye-opening list of fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and oils. You may be surprised to learn that honeybee pollination constitutes one out of every three bites
of food you consume and for us locavores, that number is much higher. Without honeybee pollination, humans and wildlife would not necessarily starve to death but the quality and quantity of our meals would be greatly diminished. Foods that are well pollinated just taste better. By bringing attention to these foods we honor the work of the honeybees around the country and the entire world.
It comes as no surprise that it is the female worker bees who forages for nectar to make honey and gathers pollen as their source of protein in order to feed her colony. As she visits flowers, pollen naturally magnetizes to her hairy body and is then transferred from flower to flower initiating the age-old process of pollination, the first step to plant fertilization. Since honeybees are the only species loyal to one type of flower on a foraging visit – a behavior called flower constancy - she will exclusively visit the same floral source benefiting flower pollination. Although we have thousands of native pollinators, a honeybee hive can be moved to specific farms, fields or groves throughout the season in order to follow the ever changing bloom they also over winter. In a mutually beneficial relationship that has been going on for over 100 million years, bees are rewarded with nectar for honey making and the flower is gratefully fertilized. Pollination is not only critical to global food production and biodiversity but for our entire eco-system, bees make the world go around insuring food for all living creatures including domestic livestock as well as wildlife. Long before Europeans brought honeybees to colonize America, wild turkeys relied on nuts, berries, seeds and clovers to eat pollinated by native bees, other insects and even the wind. A little known fact is that honeybees are not native to North America, and the Native Americans did not enjoy the sweetness of a honey harvest until honeybees arrived, many on the Mayflower. Earning honeybees the nickname “the white mans flies.” So at your holiday feast this year as you set your table with a cotton tablecloth and napkins – yes, cotton requires bee pollination - light your beeswax candles and enjoy your bee pollinated pumpkin pie and coffee, tell your children and guest how this delicious meal arrived at the table…a farmer, a bee, a flower and a beekeeper.
Bee Pollinated Apple Pie Recipe
1 pastry crust for double-crust pie
8 sliced Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored and sliced
½ cup butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
3. Line the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly.
4. Gently pour the honey and butter liquid over the apples.
5. Sprinkle cranberries and walnuts over apples.
6. Cover with a second crust, crimp edges with fork and cut vents in top.
7. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.
8. Serve warm with bee pollinated vanilla ice cream.