Memorial held for dead Ore. bees

6-30-13-bee memorial
Organizers hold a memorial beginning 2 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at the Target store in Wilsonville, Ore., where thousands of bees were found dead in a week following pesticide use. (KOIN 6 News, Ellen Hansen)

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) — More than 100 people gathered Sunday in a Wilsonville parking lot in a memorial to the tens of thousands of bees that died there.

“It’s not only happening in parking lots of Target stores, and things like that,” said bee memorial organizer Rozzell Medina. “It’s also happening in people’s backyards, and it’s happening all over the world.”

0630-PTNE-DeadBees_JV
Kent Addleman of Tigard — a third generation bee keeper — addresses his concerns to over 100 people during a bee memorial at the parking lot at Wilsonville Target.
(Portland Tribune, Jaime Valdez)

Roughly 50,000 bees were killed in Wilsonville and Hillsboro this past week, after they were exposed to a pesticide sprayed on at least 55 nearby trees in bloom.

The bee deaths marked what is being considered the largest “bee kill” on record. And the Oregon Department of Agriculture isn’t taking any chances. It is now temporarily restricting the use of 18 pesticides which contain the active ingredient dinotefuran.

Organizers of Sunday’s afternoon memorial in Wilsonville, Ore., said they were trying to draw attention to what could now be a serious problem.

They pointed out the crucial role bees play in pollinating crops and said someone needs to stand up for the insects. They said they’re worried about the endangerment of bees worldwide and the impact their extinction could have on the earth.

Jacqueline Freeman spoke at the memorial. She’s a beekeeper from Battle Ground, who showed a video of a recent bee kill on her property that she said also was caused by pesticides. She said her bees brought the poison to the hive from some other property.

“There’s nothing I can do to get the poison off of them,” Freeman said. “They’re doomed.”

The memorial was held beginning 2 p.m. Sunday outside the Target store in Wilsonville, Ore., where many of the bees died. Some who commented on the event’s Facebook page thought that a memorial to the bees was too dramatic. One person even started a Protest against the 50,000 Bee “Memorial” page.

But Medina said he wanted to do something to let people know that losing so many bees is a serious matter.

“We can do something about these things,” organizer Rozzell Medina said, “and find sustainable solutions to these problems affecting us and affecting our children.”

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