Macon, GA – We don’t see many bees flying around Georgia at the end of November, but we do see the fruits of their labor. Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, green beans and more of the foods that make Thanksgiving dinner so special are possible through the work of bees. But bees are at risk. So this holiday season, chefs, restaurant owners and environmental advocates are speaking out to protect bees and help stop them from dying off at alarming rates.
“We’re thankful for bees this Thanksgiving,” said Jennette Gayer, Environment Georgia’s Executive Director. “Without bees, Thanksgiving dinners in Georgia would look and taste different. No bees means no pumpkin pie.”
Honeybees, bumblebees, and other bees are critical both to the environment and our food supply. Bees pollinate many of the world’s most common crops, including Thanksgiving favorites such as cranberries, green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts and pie fillings from pumpkin to apple. Bees also pollinate coffee, chocolate and the alfalfa eaten by dairy cows.
“At Dovetail we strive to use local and organic ingredients because that is what makes delicious food but also supports the community where we all live, and that includes the bees,” said Chef Brad Stevens
Unfortunately, millions of bees are dying across the U.S. every year. Beekeepers report they are losing an average of 30% of all honeybee colonies annually. Not only are honeybees are in danger; native bees, including bumblebees, are also at risk. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the first bee in the continental U.S., the rusty patched bumblebee, to the endangered species list earlier this year.
“At Rag and Frass Farm we strive to increase and maintain biodiversity no bees would mean no flowers, no fruits, no vegetables, no job,” said Julia Asherman with Rag and Frass Farm. “Unfortunately, we’ve experienced bee deaths in our own hives as global warming increases winter temperatures which means bees use up their stores and starve as they attempt to forage during winter months.”
Scientists point to several reasons why bees are dying off, including global warming, habitat loss, parasites and a class of bee-killing pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics.
Sharing some of the same chemical properties as nicotine, neonics are neurotoxins that can kill bees immediately and also can disorient bees, making it harder for them to pollinate plants and get back to their hives. Despite the fact that the science is clear on the dangers, neonic use has dramatically increased over the past decade. A recent study found that 86% of North American honey sampled contained neonics.
In February, Environment Georgia joined with Environment America to launch the Bee Friendly Food Alliance, a national network of over 240 chefs, restaurant owners and other leaders in the food industry working to protect the bees and are calling on the EPA to stop the use of bee killing pesticides.
“I can say unequivocally that each year gets tougher and we’re continually presented with new challenges and difficulties in keeping bees alive and productive,” said Steve Nofs owner of Shamrock Apiaries LLC and president of the Macon Beekeepers Association.
We need to take action now to protect the bees and ensure we can enjoy our favorite foods with friends and family for many Thanksgivings to come,” said Gayer