I kept going around and around in my head. How are they related? And what can I write about this week? I was looking at bee themed costumes. Yes, I know we already did that once. But I was hoping to get an idea. That’s when I saw a cute pin that made me think.

That’s when I realized that bees have a lot to do with how we celebrated modern day Halloween. Think about it! The plight of the bees is a very real issue. They are dying at increasing rates in many areas of the world.

What Can Be so Scary About No Bees for Halloween?

What if there were no honeybees and what would be the impact on Halloween? Would we even notice? I would, because no bees means no pumpkins. Which means no more carved pumpkins. Carved pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns are iconic American symbols of Halloween (It also means no more pumpkin honey- Oh my goodness- it’s the best!). That’s because honeybees pollinate most pumpkin crops in the US. So without bees, we’d have a noticeable absence of pumpkins, not to mention pumpkin pie, pumpkin honey, and many other fall favorite pumpkin essentials.

So, no bees, means no iconic pumpkins. Imagine no bins of pumpkins in front of the supermarkets. No sitting around the table carving pumpkins with your siblings. There would be no roasted pumpkin seeds, no jack-o-lanterns lighting the way on Halloween night. Halloween just wouldn’t be the same.

 

OH NO! What About Pumpkin Spice Lattes?!

For those of you who are worried about your sweets, those will likely survive dwindling honeybee populations.  Sugar cane does not require pollination at all, and sugar beets are effectively wind pollinated. So, we’ll likely always have sugar. Chocolate plants are pollinated by the chocolate midge, and only the chocolate midge. So, as long as the chocolate midge stays healthy we’re good there. Vanilla is a little iffy. It is naturally pollinated by the melipona bee, or vanilla bee.This bee is found in tropical areas of the Americas. Over the last quarter century, there has been a loss of over 90% of melipona hives. That, combined with the fact that many vanilla plantations are not located in the tropical Americas accounts for the fact that commercially grown vanilla is hand pollinated, making the vanilla bean the 2nd most expensive spice, after saffron. Even so, the bulk of vanilla flavored products are flavored with synthetically produced vanilla flavoring, so if the vanilla orchid were to ever go extinct, sadly, most people probably wouldn’t even notice.

Bee Troubles

If you weren’t aware, the bees are in decline. Pesticides, large agricultural monocultures, improper food sources (sugar/corn syrup as bee feed inplace of nutrient rich pollen and honey), and parasitic infestations (varroa and tracheal mites and nosema), and viral infections (like deformed wing viruses) and bacterial infections (Like American Foulbrood).

 

Link discussing illnesses and infections affecting honeybees.

Pollination of Chocolate plant.

Pollination of the Vanilla plant.

More on growing vanilla orchids.

http://morebees.com/blog/

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