I sometimes wonder if the first North American European settlers would have been better off bringing honeybees with them. Those first settlers landed so late in the season, they didn't have time to adequately prepare for harsh winters.
Besides having a source for making candles, beeswax would have given them something to winterize those hastily-built log cabins and cheap sweetener honey for their first Thanksgiving.
European honeybees did first make it to North America in 1622. According to several historians, they quickly became feral and introduced the concept of "honey hunting," whereby those early immigrants went looking for bees settled into native tree cavities. European honeybees also started to move west. Native Americans knew European settlers were coming when they saw honeybees, which they called "white man's flies."
These bees were not the first North American honeybees. Archaeologists in Nevada recently found a honeybee fossil proving a form of honeybee lived in North America 16 million years ago.
How could they tell? Only honeybees have furry eyes.
Ok, that should be enough honeybee history to get a nice Thanksgiving dinner discussion started.
To keep the theme going, get kids involved making Hershey Hug honeybees, which I developed for a gardeners' lunch earlier this year.
You will need peeled Hershey Hugs; almond slivers; maraschino cherries without stems; a tube of black icing; white chocolate bark, wood toothpicks and wax paper.
• Drain cherries and place on paper towel to drain and dry.
• Melt white chocolate bark in microwave on high for 1-2 minutes to get about an inch of melted chocolate. My microwave melts at 1 minute 45 seconds but it may vary. Try 30 minute increments until mostly melted so you don't burn the chocolate.
• Mix melted chocolate until smooth. Pick up a drained cherry with a toothpick, dip in chocolate and place on wax paper to dry. Remove toothpick.
• Smear the flat side of the Hershey hug with melted chocolate; add two almond slivers at 45 degree angles. Allow to dry.
• Break a toothpick into thirds; attach two to the top of then chocolate-covered cherry for antenna. Smear more chocolate on the almond slivered-covered Hug and press a chocolate cherry to it. Let dry. Add two black dots for eyes.
Place in small muffin papers for individual servings or group several on top of your pumpkin pie for a sweet decoration.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her cooking adventures inspired by her garden at http://www.ateaspoon.com. Copyright 2012 used with permission by Gatehouse Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at email@example.com.