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Memorial honors bees that died in Wilsonville parking lot

by: PHOTO CREDIT: JAIME VALDEZ - Kent Addleman of Tigard who is a third generation bee keeper, addresses his concerns to over 100 people during a bee memorial at the parking lot at Wilsonville Target.

More than 100 people braved scorching summer temperatures to memorialize more than 50,000 bees that died in Wilsonville after trees were sprayed with a controversial pesticide in a Target parking lot.

"I thought maybe 10 or 15 friends of mine might show up, so I'm very pleased," said organizer Rozzell Medina, an artist and education activist.

As Rozzell explains, bees are essential to agriculture and deaths in Wilsonville were easily avoidable. Some of those who attended the memorial carried signs calling for a different approach to insect control. "Bee the change," read one.

Oregon's Department of Agriculture has determined that the deaths were caused by a pesticide named Safari. It has imposed a moratorium on Safari and related pesticides.

Hundreds of bees have also died under trees along Washington between Fourth and Fifth streets in Hillsboro. The state has determined the cause of those deaths, and it unclear whether the city or Washington County is responsible for the trees.

"I felt compelled to organize the memorial when I heard about the deaths," says Medina. "Bees are fascinating creatures and essential to the eco-system. We couldn't have organic gardening and farming without them."

Jina Ronning, who participated in the memorial agrees.

"I can't believe that a pesticide that can cause this kind of destruction isn't better regulated. It's not just about bees, we're exposed to it, too," says Ronning, a mother and student.

Rozzell says he will organize a similar memorial in Hillsboro if it turns out the deaths could have been avoided there, too.