Meet Mario Padilla, Director of Animal Collections at Butterfly Pavilion


Mario Padilla is an entomologist from Alamosa, Colorado. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Adams State University he became extremely interested in entomology, especially insects in the order Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps). After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Organismal Biology, he attended Pennsylvania State University to pursue a Master’s degree in Entomology under the advisement of Dr. Christina Grozinger. His thesis, Social Mechanisms Regulating Reproductive Division of Labor in Bumble Bees (Bombus impatiens) explored how queen bumble bees regulate worker reproduction via pheromone signaling and aggressive behavior. Findings from this thesis have recently been published in Royal Society Open Science under the title Chemical communication is not sufficient to explain reproductive inhibition in the bumblebee Bombus impatiens. Shortly after defending his thesis, Mario was hired as the laboratory manager in the Grozinger lab, where he managed 40+ colonies of honey bees and was the primary contact for all researcher needs. In 2015 Mario was hired as the entomologist at Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO, and in 2019 Mario was promoted to Director of Animal Collections. His job duties include; managing honey bee colonies, teaching beekeeping courses, overseeing multiple research and conservation projects, and managing all animal care. 

Mario’s Thought Leadership

Blog Posts

The Best Defense is a Good Bee Fence –

Your Beekeeping Questions Answered –

Take the Plunge, Become a Beekeeper! –

Public Lectures

Mario has appeared to speak on various topics related to invertebrate conservation and research to community groups including:

Girl Scouts of America, Colorado Department of Health and Energy, Wells Fargo, Broomfield Open Space, Wells Fargo, Elevations Credit Union, 4H, Denver Master Gardeners, Hudson Gardens, multiple beekeeping clubs, Denver Center for Performing Arts, and multiple local elementary schools. Topics range from pollination biology, beekeeping, native bees, bee and elephant conservation, and bee declines.

Media Appearances

Mario has appeared on a number of local and national news outlets promoting Butterfly Pavilion and PACE initiatives including: 9News, CBS Denver, Fox 31, Denver 7, The Weather Channel and Good Morning America.

Teaching Experience

Beekeeping Bootcamp –

Work alongside Butterfly Pavilion beekeeping experts and other beginner beekeepers, developing the skills necessary to achieve thriving beehives. Beekeeping Bootcamp is qualified through the Colorado State Beekeeping Association (CSBA)!

Scientific Publications

Padilla, M.*, Amsalem, E.*, Altman, N., Hefetz, A., and C.M. Grozinger. “Chemical communication is not sufficient to explain reproductive inhibition in the bumble bee Bombus impatiens” Royal Society Open Science 3(10): 160576 (2016).

Amsalem, E., Grozinger, C.M., Padilla, M., and A. Hefetz. “Bumble bee sociobiology: The physiological and genomic bases of bumble bee social behavior” Advances in Insect Physiology: Genomics, Physiology and Behavior of Social Insects. Editors A. Zayed and C. Kent. Vol 48. p37-94 (2015).

Amsalem, E.*, Padilla, M.*, Schreiber, P.M. , Altman, N., Hefetz, A., and C.M. Grozinger. “Do bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) queens signal their reproductive and mating status to their workers?” Journal of Chemical Ecology

Padilla, M. ,Reading, R., Colley, MA., Growth Rates of Laboratory Reared Honduran Curly Hair Tarantulas (Brachypelma albopilosum) in Response to Power Feeding. Arachnology 17(7): 325-327. (2018)

* indicates equal contribution