Bees and Butterflies: Pollinators of the Tropics

Universidad Veritas

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Bees and Butterflies: Pollinators of the Tropics

  • Host University

    Universidad Veritas

  • Location

    San José, Costa Rica

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    COURSE NAME: Bees and Butterflies: pollinators of the Tropics
    LOCATION: 3500
    INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Francisco Gonzalez
    This course focuses on understanding the basic biology, identification, classification, conservation and promotion of
    insect plant pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies. In recent years, it has been demonstrated the devastating
    effects of excessive pesticide use, air pollution and habitat loss over pollinator insects, the most important ecosystem
    components for human survival. This course will cover the basic and applied principles of insect biology as well as provide
    a practical overview of the most common bees and butterflies in the Neotropical conditions of Costa Rica. From a
    practical point of view, we will learn how to start, maintain and use bee colonies as well as butterfly gardens, while from
    the theoretical side we will learn their economic and cultural importance under principles of sustainable development.
    This course will be based on field trips, talks, the study of multimedia, literature, visits and practical contact with insects.
    Therefore, this course is aimed to any student with an interest in biology, sustainability, apiculture, anthropology and
    This is a course of Environmental Sciences (theoretical and practical) and answers the following question:
    What is the role of bees and butterflies in pollination of the tropics and how can we protect them?
    To answer this question the following aspects will be studied:
     Basic concepts of insect biology
     What is pollination and insect mediated pollination
     Characteristics of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies)
     Characteristics of Hymenoptera (bees, bumblebees)
     History of Apiculture
     Beekeeping around the world
     Use of honey and bee-derived products
     Threats to bee pollination
     Butterflies conservation
     Butterfly gardens and ecotourism
     Rearing of honey-producing bees
     Rearing of butterflies
     Pests and diseases that hamper pollinators rearing
     Optimization through biological design
    Along the course the following abilities and skills will be promoted:
     Analyze the historical perspectives of honey production
     Understanding of the context, reasons and motivations for conservation of pollinators
     Creativity for design
     Development of strategical thinking sensitive for sustainable development.
    The following values and attitudes will be promoted in the students:
     Respect for the environment and human groups (farmers, aboriginal people).
     Logical and critical thinking.
     Innovation in a tropical setting.
     Goal-oriented thinking.
     Team work and leadership.
     Empathy and sensitivity.
    Competencies, criteria and evidence
    The following defines the competencies (specific and general), the criteria and the performance evidence for their
    evaluation in this course.
    Competency type
    Criteria Performance evidence
    Understands the concept of insect
    mediated pollination and the need for
    protection of bees and butterflies,
    along with knowledge of how to
    promote these insects
    He/she i can recognize different
    orders of insects.
    Mind Maps
    He/she is able to explain basic
    biology principles of insect life
    Mind maps
    He/she distinguish the reasons for
    the insect pollinator crisis
    Round Table
    He/she can investigate and
    propose new uses and
    opportunities of bees and
    butterflies in the XXI century
    The students are able to conduct a
    report in which they develop a
    bees or butterfly related project.
    Project Report
    Integrate concepts, nomenclature and
    key elements from the course to be
    used in his/her upcoming professional
    Learning to learn Mind Maps / Round Table
    Develops the skills and techniques to
    communicate and transfer knowledge
    through visual, oral and wrtitten forms.
    Written, visual and oral
    Essay / Project
    Incorporates and shares knowledge
    interpersonally to achieve a common
    goal through team work and
    Team work and leadership. Project
    Integrates knowledge and logical
    thinking in a respectful way to review
    his/her own work and others.
    Respect for others and empathy.
    Conflict solving.
    Sensitivity and assertive criticism.
    Logical thinking.
    Round Table / Presentation Project
    Subject 1. What are insects?
     Insects anatomy
     Insects life cycles
     Insect orders
    Subject 2. What is pollination?
     Ecological aspects of pollination
     Different types of pollination
     Insect pollination
    Subject 3. Lepidopterans, Moth ans butterflies
     Characteristics of Lepidoptera
     Moths and butterflies of the Tropics
     Most common families of Lepidoptera
     Communication between butterflies and moths
    Subject 4. Hymenopterans, Bees
     Types of social and non-social Hymenopterans
     Bees, bumblebees, stingless bees
     Communication in bees
    Subject 5. Apiculture
     History of Apiculture
     Beekeeping around the world
     Honey production and other uses
    Subject 6. Pollinators crisis
     Effects of pesticides
     Habitat loss and pollinators abundance
     Countermeasures
    Subject 7. Butterflies conservation
     History of butterflies conservation
     Methods to promote butterfly abundance and diversity
     Studies of butterfly ecology and conservation
     Butterfly rearing and eco-tourism
    Subject 8. Rearing of honey-producing bees
     Types of bees
     Hive design
     Members of the hive
     Beekeeping and management
    Subject 9. Rearing of butterflies for garden
     Specimen collection
     Needs of each physiological state
     Food sources
    Subject 10. Health of pollinators rearing
     Ecology of natural enemies
     Pests and diseases of bee production
    Subject 11. Biological design to optimize production
     Examples of nature-inspired optimization of honey production
     Design of targeted pollination through human manipulation
    This is a course of active interaction between the students and the professor, where knowledge is developed through
    the participation of both parts. Attendance is compulsory, although two unexcused absences are allowed.
    Assistance to visits is compulsory. Emergency absence will be excused when proper documentation is provided.
    This course utilizes the PBL (problem-based learning) and the TBL (team-based learning) as educational strategies. This
    means that students are expected to solve research questions individually and in groups through the different activities
    planned by the professor. Additionally, students will learn and perform critical analysis of their own as well as others
    Performance activities
    The following activities will be used as evaluating evidence of student performance:
     Mind Maps: the students will prepare, summarize, extract and present the most important aspects related to
    the subject assigned.
     Round Tables: the students will prepare arguments and questions to participate in each one of subjects
    designated as controversial presenting different aspects of the same subject.
     Essay: each student will correlate the acquired knowledge with his or her own studies and predict applications
    on their professional careers.
     Project: students will analyze, gather literature, consult experts, prepare and present a project that has to be
    complemented with the field trip. In parallel, they will study the assignment of other students of the class and
    prepare to be their reviewers during the final presentation date.
    Educational Resources
    Lessons will take place in a laboratory/classroom with the essential equipment for teaching and learning of this subject.
    There is going to be a visit to at least one butterfly farm and bee production site. Visits will also include most of the
    essential elements for learning. Reading material will be provided by the professor and the university. In case of other
    needed literature the student will have the availability of the university library to check books and online resources.
    The evaluation of the course will be based on the performance evidence (items) produced by the student and the
    examination by the teacher using the criteria mentioned above. The following shows the details of each one.
    The following extends on the evaluation criteria of each part:
    Items Percentage
    Mind Maps 10%
    Round Tables 10%
    Essay 20%
    Class assignments and
    Project 30%
    TOTAL 100%

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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