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Sweet local events mark National Pollinator Week

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Bees will be the guest of honor (sort of) as Portland kicks off its celebration of National Pollinator Week June 17 to 23 on Saturday.Portland kicks off its celebration of National Pollinator Week (June 17 to 23) on Saturday with children’s field activities, honey tastings and a close-up look at the pollination process.

Kids will get to use magnifying glasses and see how bees gather pollen. They’ll look for answers to questions like: Why is pollination an important part of the food web? Why does clover honey taste different than wildflower honey? And what kinds of insects and animals facilitate the pollination process?

Children will also get to look at honeycombs and take home instructions for making mason bee houses and attracting pollinators to their gardens.

Bees are just one of Mother Nature’s biggest pollinators; the others are birds, bats, butterflies and beetles.

The event will cap off with a honey tasting, as kids learn why the flavor is dependent on where the bees have been pollinating. Staff and volunteers will lead the lessons.

The curriculum was created in partnership with the Xerxes Society, a non-profit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.

The U.S. Sentate designated National Pollinator Week six years ago as a way to address the worldwide ecosystem crisis of declining pollinator populations. Awareness has spread in recent years, and Portland has become a hotspot for urban beekeeping and bee education.

Since 2005, the Sauvie Island Center has been educating youth about food, farming and the land. Founder Shari Raider, owner of Sauvie Island Organics, created the program in response to requests she was getting from local schools. She teamed up with James Beard Award-winning Portland chef Cory Schreiber to develop hands-on curriculum at the farm; this year they’ll host at least 1,500 students. About 60 percent of the visiting schools are low-income and attend field trips through scholarships.

The city-wide Pollination Celebration events are open to all. They are set for:

• Saturday, June 15 at Whole Foods Market in Hollywood, 4301 N.E. Sandy Blvd. (10 a.m. to noon)

• Saturday, June 15 at Whole Foods Market on Fremont, 3535 N.E. 15th Ave. (1 to 3 p.m.)

* Thursday, June 20 at Whole Foods Market in Laurelhurst, 2825 N.E. Burnside (4 to 6 p.m.)

• Saturday, June 22 at Howell Territorial Park on Sauvie Island (10 a.m. to noon). A donation of $10 per family is requested to help offset costs at this event.

For more information on pollinator events, visit www.pollinator.org. To register, or for more info on the events, go to www.sauvieislandcenter.org.