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Protect Portland’s Pollinators: The Bee Jubilee

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The buzz of Oregon honeybees is growing dimmer by the day. Honey bees have been disappearing from Oregon at an alarming rate. You might know that bees pollinate our crops and give us honey. But there’s so much more to these pollinators. We have bees to thank for so many of our favorite foods: from apples to almonds to carrots and grapes.  Your plate would look very different in a world without honeybees.

One of the factors in the disappearance of honeybees — a group of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These pesticides are present in commonly used home gardening products and are regularly sprayed on millions of acres of corn, soy, wheat and cotton seeds in the United States alone. Scientific reports say the insecticides act as a nerve poison, infecting the pollen and nectar of plants, disorienting the bees and making it impossible for them to find their way back to their hives.

In April, 2015, the Portland City Commission voted unanimously to immediately suspend use of products that contain neonicotinoids, making Portland the second largest city in the U.S. (after Seattle) to ban the use of neonicotinoids on public lands.

“These toxicants kill bees outright or slowly over time, so this ordinance is critical to protecting Portland’s burgeoning local foods movement,” said Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Beyond Toxics, the group spearheading the adopted protections. “Bees pollinate over 30% of the food we eat and over 70% of all flowering plants. Importantly, children using Portland parks will be safer because of this ordinance.”

Elephants Delicatessen was pleased to co-sponsor the Bee Jubilee gala on April 30, 2015, an evening dedicated to celebrating this  historical milestone for the City of Portland and Oregon’s pollinators. Guests enjoyed live music, locally-produced food from Elephants Deli,  local wines from Stanton Vineyard and Cameron Winery (healthy pollinators are crucial to the Oregon wine industry), honey-rich beer from Fat Head’s Brewing, and mixed drinks will be provided by Bull Run Distillery.  We also enjoyed a live (enclosed) demonstration bee hive with 1500 honey bees thanks to Live Honey Bees.* And Bee Thinking displayed  their Western Red Cedar bee houses on display.

Business leaders and  representative from the City of Portland talk about Portland’s neonicotinoids ban and  the work we do to protect pollinators and share simple steps everyone can take to protect pollinators and work towards a clean and just Oregon.
The evening benefitted  the work of Beyond Toxics. Their mission is to work to guarantee environmental protections and better health for all communities and residents.

We invite you to be a champion for bees and the health of Oregon communities. What can you do? You can support businesses and organizations that support bees.

You can also do very simple things, like planting flowers.  Patches of flowers can be grown almost anywhere and will form an important resource for bees.

Get tips for cultivating a bee-friendly garden.

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