Course Description

Course Name

Bees and Butterflies: Pollinators of the Tropics

Session: VSJU1721

Hours & Credits

60 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


COURSE NAME: Bees and Butterflies: pollinators of the Tropics
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 content subject to change