By Jamie Leary

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)National Pollinator Week is in full swing at Denver’s Butterfly Pavilion, the perfect time to announce a new partnership with … honey bees!

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CBS4’s Jamie Leary interviews beekeeper Mario Padilla. (credit: CBS)

For the last 2 years, staffers at the Butterfly Pavilion have been partnering with businesses and residents across the city, connecting the community with bee hives through its beehive management program.

This week, the Pavilion announced its largest partnership with restaurant group Edible Beats. Edible Beats owns popular restaurants across the metro area; Root Down was the first and is now in Denver International Airport. The group also owns Linger, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, Vital Root and the newest addition, El Five.

Edible Beats isn’t the only group interested in beekeeping. The Butterfly Pavilion manages about 50 hives across Denver through its program.

Head beekeeper and Entomologist Mario Padilla oversees the hives personally.

“All that honey kind of goes into a big bucket and then we disperse it as we see fit,” said Padilla.

(credit: CBS)

Padilla has been a part of the Butterfly Pavilion for 3 years and has played an integral role in educating the community about the importance of honeybees. He even created a honey bee boot camp.

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“I wanted to be a zookeeper when I grew up and I kind of am a zookeeper now because The Butterfly Pavilion is a zoo for small animals in backbones,” said Padilla.

While Edible Beats will be able to enjoy the fresh local honey in its restaurants, for the partners, it’s about so much more than the honey.

“They’re so tied to what we eat on a daily basis. Probably one out of every three bites we eat is because of a pollinator. Not only these but our native bees and I think for the most part, we’re really just focusing on the pollination services that these animals can bring to the various fruits and veggies grown here,” Padilla said, gesturing to the 4,000 square foot garden Edible Beats keeps its new hive in.

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Edible Beats believes in sustainable local farming. The hive was the perfect addition to their private urban garden.

“It’s great for us to really have that local partnership that’s focused on local food,” said Padilla.

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Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.