What Would Halloween Look Like Without Bees?
With all the bee costumes on the market (especially bee costumes for dogs!), you might think that Halloween without bees would just be one less costume to enjoy. But the reality is that we depend upon bees for our most important Halloween tradition: the pumpkin.
Halloween is almost synonymous with pumpkins—picking, decorating, and carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seeds, and making pumpkin pie.
Visiting pumpkin patches gets us closer to the land and understanding how nature works. But we only see the end product: that beautiful orange squash. Have you ever gone to a pumpkin patch earlier than October? It’s a field of green leaves and yellow flowers, and how that turns into a field of pumpkins is somewhat magical.
Pumpkin plants have both male and female flowers. Male flowers open earlier than female flowers and produce the necessary pollen for the female flower to set fruit. “Set fruit” is another phrase for reproduction, which requires pollination—basically fertilizing the female flower with pollen from the male flower. How does that happen? Bees do that work for us! According to an article from the College of Agricultural Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, “Pumpkin pollen is relatively large and sticky, and bees are usually the best pollinators. In the Northeast U.S., the most frequent and important pumpkin pollinators are honeybees, bumblebees, and squash bees, although the flowers will occasionally be visited by many other solitary bees, including carpenter bees.”
Which Bees are the Best at Pumpkin Pollination?
Bumblebees are better than honeybees for pumpkin pollination, and squash bees are even better than bumblebees. What makes them better? It has to do with the timing of the blooms and the hairiness of the bees. Female pumpkin flowers bloom at dawn and typically close by noon. “By starting to work earlier in the day, and being active in inclement weather, [bumblebees] are more efficient pollinators than honeybees. Furthermore, they are larger and more hairy than honeybees—traits that increase their likelihood of vectoring more pollen between flowers.” In other words, since pumpkin pollen is sticky, hairier bees can better collect and transport the pollen to the female plant. Squash bees are the best bees, though—partly because they’re faster flyers and even hairier. A solitary species, the squash bee depends on squash plants’ pollen for survival. So, the next time you’re in a pumpkin patch, look for those solitary squash bees, and thank them!
Are pumpkins nutritious?
Pumpkins are incredibly nutritious. A relatively low-calorie food, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin K, Copper, Vitamin E, and Magnesium. And according to Healthline, one cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A! The National Institutes of Health’s fact sheet on Vitamin A says that Vitamin A is important for your immune system, vision, and reproductive health. It also helps vital organs like your heart and lungs work properly.
While carving-pumpkins are generally not the same ones we eat, fresh-eating pumpkins are still readily available this time of year. Making a pie from fresh pumpkin may take a little more work than buying canned pumpkin, but it’s much more rewarding! Check out this recipe for making
pumpkin filling for a pie. We also love this tasty dairy-free and vegan pumpkin soup recipe!
Pumpkin seeds are also nutritious. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 4.5 grams of protein, one gram of fiber, as well as other essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Here’s a basic recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds; we love them with seasoned salt!
Do Dogs Like Pumpkin?
Let’s start with the fact that pumpkin is very nutritious for dogs and cats! According to The Vet Practice, adding pumpkin to your pet’s diet can help with weight loss and digestion. It is a low-calorie food filled with essential vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as minerals such as calcium and potassium. (It’s good for humans and pets!) Many dogs love pumpkin, though, as with any taste, it varies. There’s no guarantee your dog will love a pile of cooked pumpkin. That’s one of the reasons Project Hive Pet Company has recently added pumpkin Hive Biscuits to its line of delicious dog treats! Packed with nutritious pumpkin puree, it’s made even tastier with peanut butter, cinnamon, ginger, and organic honey from our worker bee friends.
Bees Need Our Help
Watching bees work their magic on a pumpkin squash flower makes you think: what would happen if our bee population were not supported? Unfortunately, bees are struggling to survive due to a variety of factors, all of which are interconnected. Climate change, pesticide use, and disease are three primary factors. But one of the most significant contributors to the decline of bees is the loss of healthy habitat. That’s why Project Hive Pet Company supports habitat growth through its partners, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund in the United States and the Canadian Honey Council in Canada. Since our launch in early 2021, we’ve helped plant over 5 million square feet of pollinator habitat, supporting 36 projects across nine states! As our company grows, so will the amount of healthy habitat necessary to nourish and sustain the bees.
Clearly, pumpkins play an integral role in our lives! And without bees, we’d have no pumpkins. Then what would we pick, decorate, carve, and cook on Halloween?
Thank you for helping us save bees!