Make a beeline to Pollinator Palooza
As summer flowers begin to bloom, adding pops of color to the lush green landscape, residents are invited to celebrate the creatures that make the spring and summer floral display — and much more — possible.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Hillsboro Parks and Recreation will host the second annual Pollinator Palooza at Jackson Bottom Wetlands to celebrate and teach visitors about pollinators such as bees, butterflies, beetles, bats and birds.
The event bookends National Pollinator Week, a weeklong celebration of pollinators and their important role in the ecosystem, created by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 12 years ago to bring attention to declining pollinator populations.
Mandy Shaw, president of Portland Urban Beekeepers, a nonprofit that aims to raise awareness about bees and other pollinators through public education, said, "pollinators are the backbone of our ecosystem. Without them there is no flowering plants, no fruits, no vegetables. I think people need to get comfortable with the fact that we need insects."
Although folks might get annoyed by bees buzzing around summer picnics uninvited, bees and pollinators play a role in the food filling picnic baskets. Nearly 75% of crops depend on insects moving pollen from one plant to another, in order for the plants to reproduce. Without pollinators, people would not be able to enjoy most fruits, vegetables and nuts.
The activism of Jackson Bottom Wetlands, the Fish & Wildlife Service and Portland Urban Beekeepers is fueled by a marked decline in pollinator populations.
"Global warming, pesticide exposure, lack of forage, parasites and diseases are gaining traction due to bees' weakening immune system," Shaw said. "Their declining numbers is a symptom of a much larger problem in our environment."
Within the past 10 years, ecologists have labeled this phenomenon "colony collapse disorder." According to a study done by Harvard scientists, exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides that alter bees' behavior could be a key factor for why bee populations are declining.
Scientists however, are reluctant to make any claims at this point as colony collapse disorder is only just starting to be thoroughly studied.
"One of our main objectives is to connect with our community through outreach and education," said Lori Prince, outdoor recreation manager for Jackson Bottom Wetlands. "So, we thought Pollinator Palooza! would be a great way to support more awareness for our pollinators in our community."
At this year's Pollinator Palooza, visitors will have a chance to see a beehive up close, taste honey, learn about bee research and monitoring at Jackson Bottom Wetlands, in addition to arts and crafts projects.
"We have a lot of outdoor space as well, so for the folks who come to Pollinator Palooza are also welcome to enjoy our nearly 5 miles of trails," Prince said.
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