Netherlands, Costa Rica

Bees and Pollination

when 17 August 2015 - 28 August 2015
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 575

Bee pollination is a most important ecosystem service. The course explains this pollinator status and offers in-depth training in pollination biology. At advanced level we examine bee behavior and flower biology. The rich tropical nature of Costa Rica allows for the comparison of a variety of pollinator syndromes and for a comprehensive introduction in bee biodiversity. We deal with all aspects of bee biology and with beekeeping and its recent limitations. We make visits to sites and projects of natural and horticultural pollination interest. We present the fascinating biology of tropical “stingless bees” as well as the spectacular “orchid bees”.

This course of two weeks is given in Costa Rica in cooperation with the Universidad Nacional (see below). We make a comprehensive study of the relation between bees and flowering plants. Practical pollination biology is the major topic and students will participate actively in laboratory studies and field observations on flower biology and bee behavior.
Through the rich biodiversity in Costa Rica, including many colony-living bee species, we can analyse a range of pollination syndromes (flower traits evolved in response to selection by different bees as pollen vectors). This will enhance the insight in applied biology and pollinator significance of the honeybee (Apis mellifera) and other bees. For this we will also examine the fascinating biology of “stingless bees” (Apidae, Meliponinae) and “orchid bees” (Apidae, Euglossinae) together with several groups of solitary bees.

Next to the pollinator status of bees we will investigate the production of honey and other bee products. Biodiversity, ecology, behaviour and beekeeping techniques, not only of honeybees but also of typical tropical bees, will be covered.
In additional lectures and during excursions we will explain interesting aspects of the tropics. Costa Rica is for nature lovers one of the most attractive countries to visit. The special geographical position results in a convergence of flora and fauna of different continents. Spectacular sites and landscapes like rainforests, volcanoes, cloud forests, swamps and beautiful beaches are all easy to reach. The fact that many international ecological institutes have their base in Costa Rica is also related to the famous hospitality of the “ticos” and their relative high level of education. The complete absence of a military force is remarkable for a Latin-American country as well as this being openly cherished by the people.

A basic knowledge of honeybee biology is desirable but not imperative for participating in this course. The course “WHY WE NEED BEES” in Utrecht may serve as an introduction for the more in-depth study in Costa Rica. The schedule drawn up for both courses allows for a transfer of students to Costa Rica after having followed the Utrecht introduction course. Both courses can be followed independently from each other.
Practical Pollination Biology, Edited by Amots Dafni, Peter G. Kevan and Brian C. Husband. 2005, Cambridge Ontario, Canada ISBN: 0-9680123-0-7.
The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism, by Jürgen Tautz et al., 2009, Springer Verlag ISBN 978-3-540-78729-7 (e-book)

Course leader

Prof. Dr. Marinus J. Sommeijer

Target group

MSc-students and PhD-students. Also open for advanced BSc-students.This course may be attractive to students of Science, Biology, Agronomy, Economy and Environmental studies. Young professionals involved in pollination of crops.

Course aim

The aim is to introduce students in the pollinator status of bees. The various pollination sydromes and basics of ecology and diversity of colony-living bees will be introduced. Students obtain information on major aspects of bee biology. Students will be introduced in the importance of bees for the tropical forests and tropical agriculture. Various aspects of beekeeping will be presented and discussed.

Credits info

3 EC
Certificate of Attendance

Fee info

EUR 575: Course + course materials

Accomodation for this course can be provided for € 19/night in a well-mantained and simple hotel in Costa Rica. Please contact Utrecht Summer School office for more information:


Utrecht Summer School doesn't offer scholarships for this course.

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