Posted October 19, 2011
Written by Curator Emeritus Bob Glotzhober
Ohio, along with the rest of the nation, celebrates Halloween and Thanksgiving with pumpkins. The annual Circleville Pumpkin Show (October 19 -22, 2011) has been a major event for that Ohio city since 1903.
Native to the southwest and Central America, pumpkins and related squash were part of American Indian agricultures famous three sisters of squash, beans and corn. American Indian agriculture spread these across the nation, greeting European colonists in part by introducing these plants to their diet.
But without bees to pollinate pumpkins and squash none of them would ever survive. Long before Europeans introduced the European Honeybee to North America, several species of native bees were pollinating squash and pumpkins. We have these native bees and the Native Americans who spread the squash and pumpkins to Ohio, and all the way to the East Coast, to thank for adding pumpkins to our diet and to our now expanded American culture.
Growers of squash and pumpkins need to aware of the importance of native bees and honeybees in pollinating their crops. Indiscriminate pesticide use can kill off the bees as well as pests ruining a pumpkin crop. To learn more about native bees and their impact on pumpkins and squash, go this website from the Xerces Society.
Senior Curator of Natural History