WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- Entomologist Mario Padilla has a way of convincing you that standing amid hundreds of thousands of bees is no big deal.
"If you know how to work with them and you’re patient and calm, you shouldn’t have any worry whatsoever with honeybees," says Padilla, who manages the apiary at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster.
Bees can get a bad reputation, but they usually only sting to defend themselves or their hive. A swarm of bees can be particularly terrifying for some people, but Padilla says bees are actually most calm when they're swarming.
"A swarm of bees is just their reproductive process. They’re actually the most docile they ever are in a swarm because they’re just trying to protect the queen as much as they possibly can. They’re trying to find a new place to live, so swarms... you don’t have anything to worry about."
Swarms are a sign that a colony got too large so half the bees leave to start a new one. Mario started the newest colony at the Butterfly Pavilion from a swarm he caught. The apiary at the Butterfly Pavilion has 17 colonies, each with 50,000 plus bees.
The Butterfly pavilion teaches others about the benefits of beekeeping with a five part course -- a beekeeping bootcamp. Participants learn about bee anatomy, behavior, collecting honey, and diseases that impact colonies. That's a concern with population decline still a threat to European honeybees and bumblebees.
Padilla says bees are also threatened by pesticides and habitat loss, which is why more communities have made efforts to protect bees and other pollinators.
More people are keeping backyard bees, but another way to help is to plant flowers that attract pollinators.