Oregon native bees now have a special day of their own. Gov. Kate Brown, at the urging of local nonprofit Beyond Toxics, has declared Aug. 15, 2015, as Oregon Native Bees Conservation Awareness Day.
People should care about the welfare of bees, says Beyond Toxics Executive Director Lisa Arkin. Without bees, crops would have to be pollinated by hand, she says.
In 2014, Eugene gained national attention when it banned the use of neonicotinoids, which are pesticides proven to be particularly harmful to bees. Arkin says the awareness day should bring awareness to stopping the use of insecticides and herbicides. Also important, she says, is preserving native bees’ habitat.
“If we don’t take steps now to preserve habitat such as west Eugene’s wetlands, and stop using poisons that kill [bees], they will eventually go extinct,” she says.
Bees are responsible for about 75 percent of pollination for food sources nationwide, according to Joel Iboa, Beyond Toxics environmental justice and community outreach coordinator. He says that nonnative honey bees only represent 2 percent of the total bee population, putting in perspective the critical nature of saving native bees.
The native bee day also coincides with the reveal of Beyond Toxics’ 2015 Beauty of the Bee Photo ‘n’ Video contest winner.
Catia Juliana, who took second place in the 2013 photo contest, says that it “was really fun to enter and see the beautiful images people have of bees.” Juliana, who set up her first beehive this year, adds that seeing bees in an artistic medium makes you more “emotionally attached” and thus more likely to care about the welfare of the bees.
Bee-related events take place all over town this month, including pollinator-inspired drinks and food at Cornucopia, 295 W. 17th Avenue, on Aug. 15, as well as a wine tasting and benefit for Beyond Toxics 5:30 pm Thursday, Aug. 20, at Silvan Ridge Winery, 27102 Briggs Hill Road.