PHILADELPHIA — On Tuesday, environmental advocates wanted to make sure people understood the importance of bees as Thanksgiving approaches.

The PennPIRG Education Fund and the PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center outlined the many contributions that bees make toward the traditional holiday meal while their numbers continue to decline across the country. 

Emma Horst-Martz, an advocate with PennPIRG Education Fund, explains that without pollinators like bees, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and other staples wouldn’t be possible. Overall, bees are responsible for one-in-three bites of food we eat

“Thanksgiving is the time when we come together with family and friends to give thanks,” said Horst-Martz. “Bees rank at the top of the list of items we should  be thankful for because of all the foods they provide. Without bees, our dinner tables would lack the hearty and colorful dishes that we always return to.” 

According to a study by the Center for Biological Diversity, more than half of native bee species in North America are in decline because of habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use. A separate study showed beekeepers reported losing 45.5 percent of their honey bee colonies last year, the second highest annual loss rate on record.

“As we sip some mulled apple cider this year, we should mull over all that we can do to save the bees,” said Faran Savitz, Conservation Associate with PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center. “Whether that’s planting pollinator habitat in the spring, a New Year’s resolution to reduce pesticide use starting in the winter or calling our elected officials to take action at any time of year, we can address some of the hardest felt challenges bees are facing right here in Pennsylvania.”

PennPIRG Education Fund and PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center encourage Pennsylvanians to plant native flowering plants in yards and gardens, skip pesticides wherever possible, consider purchasing organic foods and urge decision-makers to go the extra mile to protect bees and pollinators. 

Some other Thanksgiving-related foods are either fully or partially pollinated by bees (or have bee-pollinated ingredients) include: apples, pumpkins, cranberries, onions, brussel sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, coffee, ice cream and other dairy foods (cows eat alfalfa). 

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