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Pollinator Event Returns to Peoria Riverfront Museum

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Organizers of an event at the Peoria Riverfront Museum are hoping to bring attention to what they’re calling a “crisis” facing the world’s food supply.

The third annual “Pollinator Day” is co- hosted by the museum and the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club. The event will bring together beekeepers, gardeners, environmentalists and farmers to talk about the role that bees, butterflies and other pollinators play in food production.

Museum Planetarium Curator Renae Kerrigan says the decline in honeybee populations is worrisome.   

“Not only should we care about the pollinators because of our own needs, our own foods," Kerrigan said. "But also, it’s a sign that there’s something unhealthy happening with our environment that we need to pay attention to.”

Honeybees do the bulk of pollination for food crops. A recent study by the Bee Informed Partnership, a coalition of universities and researchers, estimates beekeepers are experiencing colony losses of more than 30 percent.

Kerrigan says increased reliance on pesticides and monoculture farming have contributed to the decline in pollinators.

“Especially there seems to be a concern with neonicotinoids because they confuse the insects and they can’t make it back to their homes,” Kerrigan said.

U.S. farmers are still debating the linkage between neonic use and declining bee populations. But the EU banned most uses of neonics in 2013, citing concerns about their effects on pollinating insects.

Kerrigan says homeowners can do their part to help pollinators by refraining from using insecticides, growing flowering plants outdoors and buying organic produce.

The free pollinator event is Saturday from 12-4pm at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Gallery access requires regular admission fees.