We typically think of bees as irritating creatures (that buzzing! Those stingers!). But as the world’s bee population has mysteriously dwindled as a result of Colony Collapse Disorder, it’s more important than ever that we encourage pollinators to hang around.

Among other important roles, pollinators—such as bees, birds, and butterflies—spread seeds, helping crops and plants grow. Honeybees alone contribute, directly or indirectly, to around $20 billion of crops each year in the United States.

Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion, a nonprofit zoo that works to educate the public about invertebrates, wants to increase consumer knowledge about the importance of pollinators. In 2016, it launched Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education (PACE); the initiative funds conservation projects and runs programming to help people better understand these animals’ roles in our ecosystem. “At Butterfly Pavilion, our mission is to bring the science to the public in a way that they can easily digest and to really make kids the stewards of the environment going forward,” says Russ Pecoraro, the Pavilion’s vice president of marketing and communications.

The effort got a big boost in January, when a partnership was announced with Rice’s Honey, a 94-year-old, family-owned honey producer in Greeley. “Having lively and strong honeybees across the United States allows us to do what we do with our local honey,” says CEO Tony Iandretti on why Rice’s decided to join forces with the Butterfly Pavilion. “Supporting an organization that is the expert in education to help sustain the livelihood of honeybees is what’s important to us.” Rice’s involvement in PACE includes both monetary and educational contributions.

So, how can you get involved? One way is with your wallet: A portion of every bottle of Rice’s Honey sold in 2018 benefits PACE. Or you can get a little more hands-on: Volunteer with the Urban Prairies Project, an open space ecological restoration effort in Broomfield and Westminster; sign up for a beekeeping class; provide a habitat for pollinators by planting flowers in your backyard and taking the time to learn which plants pollinators prefer.

Whatever you do, remember: Our dinner tables would look very different if it weren’t for bees and their pollinator friends.

On View: Learn more about bees—and butterflies and beetles and spiders and other invertebrates—at the Butterfly Pavilion’s new interactive exhibit, Survival, which traces how these small animals have adapted in order to live.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.