DURHAM – Talk about good publicity.

Bee Downtown, an urban beekeeping startup with roots in Durham, is in the national spotlight after landing on an Invesco QQQ commercial for the CNN network.

The two-and-a-half-minute commercial, which was filmed in Chapel Hill and Atlanta, features its founder, Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, who started the company four years ago at age 22 to help with the dangerous global decline of bees.

“It’s been surreal,” said the NC State graduate, now 26, who watched the commercial air for the first time with her team at CNN’s headquarters earlier this month.

The commercial is expected to run for the next couple of months.

“We’ve already had a bump in interest from companies reaching out, asking when Bee Downtown is going to expand to its city. We’ve been trying to triage all the press and media. Our team is small, so it’s been a lot.”

Bee Downtown founder and CEO Leigh-Kathryn Bonner.

Bee Downtown installs beehives on corporate campuses, as well as offers leadership development classes. To date, it has more than 50 corporate partners – including Invesco, which initially approached Bonner about making the commercial.

“Their marketing team was looking for stories of young entrepreneurs who were making a difference in the world, and they called us.”

For the Chapel Hill segment, the crew filmed at Keith Arboretum, where the group keeps its personal beehives, and later at Bonner’s family home where her parents make a cameo appearance.

“My mom never thought she’d have CNN filming in her house,” Bonner laughed, before clarifying: “It’s not a family-own company; it is mine. CNN just wanted to show the support my parents gave me through this process.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time for the company. After hitting $1 million in recurring revenue earlier this year, the company is already planning pilot programs in a number of undisclosed locations.  It has also expanded to offer leadership classes outside of Atlanta and North Carolina.

“We can expand our reach across the country now. So to have a national commercial playing over and over, it’s great for our team and our company.”

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