By Mario Padilla, Butterfly Pavilion Entomologist and Beekeeper
Butterfly Pavilion loves pollinators, and you should too!
Pollinators are animals that help feed the world. From the smallest fly to a large, lumbering bumble bee, pollinators are vital for food production and healthy and diverse ecosystems. By transferring pollen from flower to flower, pollinators initiate the reproductive process in plants, in agriculture and in the wild. This process gives us fruits, nuts, chocolate, coffee and even tequila! Almost one out of every three bites of food we eat is because of a pollinator. This vast importance led Butterfly Pavilion to create the Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education (PACE) Initiative.
The scary thing is, pollinators are in decline. From 2016-2017, beekeepers in the US have lost 33% of their colonies and native bees have not fared much better. One recent study analyzed the status of over 1,000 native bee species and found that over 50% were in decline and 25% are at risk of extinction. The cause for declines of both managed and native bee species can be summed up with the 4 Ps: parasites, pathogens, pesticides and poor nutrition. Butterfly Pavilion is aiming to curb these losses by taking a holistic approach to pollinator protection.
From local programs to work on a global scale, our work is focused around the study and monitoring of pollinators, pollinator habitat restoration, collaborative partnerships, sustainable business ventures via capacity building, and education. It is our duty to protect this vital group of animals now so they can continue to support successful ecosystems in the future.
Some local projects include: the Urban Prairies Project, which aims to restore our prairies to their original beauty to support native pollinators, Colorado Butterfly Monitoring Network, which trains citizen scientists around Colorado to identify native butterfly species to impact conservation decisions, and Beekeeping Bootcamp, which trains backyard beekeepers about the wonder of honey bees and how to keep them in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. Global projects include work in Nepal with Honey Bee Fences, which provide a sustainable income via honey to farmers while keeping elephants out of their valuable crops. Elephants hate bees (who knew?)!
One innovative way Butterfly Pavilion is making all of this work happen is through a brand new partnership with Rice’s Honey. Rice’s Honey is a leading producer of high quality, U.S. only raw and unfiltered honey headquartered in Greeley Colorado, and has a mission to promote pollinators and sustainable bee farms across the country. To fulfill that mission, Rice’s Honey donates a portion of proceeds from every bottle of its Local Hive ™ honey sold to Butterfly Pavilion’s PACE initiative, which aims to promote and protect the prosperity of pollinators worldwide.
This partnership enables Butterfly Pavilion scientists and educators to have a local, regional, and global impact on pollinator declines. This work cannot be done alone, so it is vital to partner with like-minded organizations to protect these imperiled animals.