Artist erects sculpture outside Petco Park to protest bee extermination

SAN DIEGO — Local artist David Nonemacher erected a large metal sculpture directly outside Petco Park in protest of the controversial killing of bees during a San Diego Padres game earlier this month.

Local artist David Nonemacher with his metal sculpture of a bee hive, “Be the Change,” in response to the killing of bees at Petco Park in June.

Nonemacher set up the metal bee hive sculpture ahead of the team’s game Sunday afternoon to “spread the word about ways Petco could have handled it better, but more importantly to send a positive message rather than an argumentative response.”

The controversy stems from a June 2 game between the Padres and the Miami Marlins, which was delayed for about 30 minutes when bees swarmed a microphone on the field.

An employee of Cartwright Termite & Pest Control sprayed the mic, killing the queen and hundreds of worker bees. Some fans expressed outrage on social media that the bees hadn’t been moved elsewhere without getting killed.

Nonemacher told FOX 5 that live bee removal and relocation is common. He believes it would have set a better example for the national TV audience and all those in attendance than “killing one of the most important small animals that we are losing by mass numbers.”

Nonemacher noted the importance of bees for pollinating the world's food crops and flowers. He fears that a major organization choosing to kill off the bees sent a message to others that there's no better option than extermination.

"You had a big stage where you could have had the chance to make a good example," the artist said.

Upset by the incident, Nonemacher said he started building the sculpture, which weighs 1,000 pounds and is made mostly out of scrap metal, in his shop the next day.

He transported the sculpture to Petco in one piece Sunday morning, hoping to start a conversation but unsure if park security or the police would have other plans. Sunday afternoon, he said his interactions with officials had been pleasant so far. As long as he didn't block the right-of-way, police and security officers said he could stay.

Nonemacher was glad things didn't get tense, he told FOX 5: "People get too argumentative."

On the phone with FOX 5 after the incident, a representative from Cartwright said it does try to relocate bee swarms "98 percent" of the time.

A company statement read in part: “(The) game was very unusual and possessed unique circumstances. We had a large, active bee swarm (near) thousands of people ... We had to consider the safety of the fans, players, employees when evaluating this situation."

Maria Arcega-Dunn contributed to this report.

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