By Shawn Chitnis


DENVER (CBS4)– Chefs, artists, and educators across the metro area are celebrating National Pollinators Week. The purpose is to highlight the important contribution those insects and animals make to our food, growing plants, and protecting the environment.

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“Not only honey bees but native pollinators that are in danger that really bring a lot of food to our table, which really resonates with me as a chef,” said Chris Starkus, executive chef at Urban Farmer in Denver. “Every two to three bites of food that you have on your plate comes from bees and pollinators.”

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Starkus is not only a chef but also a bee farmer who has hives on the roof of the building next to his restaurant. He brings in the honey they produce into his kitchen and uses the ingredient in their cooking all year. This week they have specialty drinks and dishes to honor the event. They also have a special dinner planned for the weekend incorporating honey.

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“We’ve got butterflies, bees, moths, different hummingbirds and a whole host of wildflowers,” said Bobby MaGee Lopez.

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Lopez is a muralist making a permanent reminder of the contributions pollinators make on the walls above an alley next to Urban Farmer and The Oxford Hotel. The mural will be completed on Saturday.

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National Pollinator Week was created more than a decade ago by the approval of the U.S. Senate. It is meant to be a way to address the declining pollinator populations. Bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles all help the ecosystem. The event was initiated by Pollinator Partnership.

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The Environmental Design department at CU Boulder is also participating in the week long event. Students are installing habitats at local parking lots. Their focus is on native bees, not honey bees, which help parks, agriculture, gardens, and creeks survive in an ecosystem. But these bees are also seeing their numbers decrease. Students are testing theories to determine which plants will best attract native bees. The goal is to develop an innovated green infrastructure for others to follow.

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“There are a lot of agricultural lands that are going and being part of development,” Starkus said of the decline in pollinator numbers.

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He says planting seeds for pollinators and saving land for the animals are needed. It is part of why he harvests honey through the restaurant. Staff also give out seeds for wildflowers to their guests.

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“It’s a natural bee keeping process,” Starkus said. “It creates awareness by people asking about what we’re doing up there and why we’re a part of it.”

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Lopez has family who work for Urban Farmer in another city and was inspired by the work they were doing in the restaurant. The request to make a mural in Denver spoke to him as another opportunity for Artivisim. A piece of art that also serves as a form of activism.

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“We really wanted to show how that would be something that people would be interested in, in the area, in a way that was more visual,” Lopez said. “I started to realize the art that I had been making had on communities.”

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LINKS: National Pollinator Week | Bobby MaGee Lopez | Urban Farmer Denver

Shawn Chitnis

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