FOR20120 Apiculture - bees, pollination and people

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module examines the most important insect pollinators and gives an insight into their taxonomy, biology and ecological role. The focus will be on bumble bees, solitary bees and honey bees. It will provide the student with an understanding of the variation in their biology and provide them with knowledge of specific pollinator species. The module will also identify human activities that affect (improve or impair) survival of pollinating insects. Emphasis is placed on the honey bee because of its importance, both as a honey producer and as a pollinator of cultivated crops. Beekeeping is described in some detail with practical demonstrations of management, and every student will have an opportunity to handle honeybee colonies in an apiary.
Apiary practical sessions will be arranged for groups of 10 at a time (protective clothing provided), depending on student and staff availability. This year it is looking unlikely that it will be possible to operate apiary visits because of having to share beesuits will constitute a risk for vectoring viral infection. However, there will still be a practical based in Rosemount Environmental Research Station. The video project will also be arranged in small groups and will make use of student’s own mobile phone video recorders.
The lectures will be delivered by UCD staff as well as invited speakers, who will cover topics such as pollinator ecology (bumblebees, honey bees and solitary bees), pests and diseases of honeybees and other pollinators. These guest lecturers will come from backgrounds such as the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Crop Policy Production and Safety Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Teagasc Bee Disease Diagnostic Service at Oak Park and the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations.
Topics covered will include:
 Evolutionary history, biology and taxonomy of pollinating Hymenoptera;
 Evolution of sociality and the super-organism concept;
 Pollination biology and bee botany;
 The organisation of honey bee colonies including sex determination and reproduction;
 Threats to pollinating insects (including chemicals, parasites and diseases);
 The importance of beekeeping and beekeeping practices to human society – past and present;
 Practical apiculture (colony management/manipulation, honey production, colony reproduction, queen rearing);
 Products and ecosystem services of pollinators.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this course students will:
 Understand the ecological niche occupied by various insect pollinators as well as the importance of insect mediated pollination to horticulture and agriculture;
 Know the major tree, shrub and vegetative plants for sourcing pollen and nectar in Ireland (and recognise the flower sources of some of the more common honey types);
 Be able to describe the social organisation of honeybee colonies;
 Appreciate the practical work involved in beekeeping and where to locate resources to establish a small apiary;
 Be able to describe the importance (economic and health) of honeybee products to human society.

Indicative Module Content:

See Overarching Content section above.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The following approaches to motivate learning and facilitate acquisition of knowledge are used in this module:
 To excite or inspire a fascination in something previously not understood or considered in the subject area;
 Integration of my own and related research where appropriate, making use of my own passion for the subject area and research experience (where it is often possible to identify amusing or interesting asides to lighten learning sessions);
 Lecture slides combining images and text references to material to stimulate different memory queues;
 Practical examples (e.g. visits to and practical problem-solving in a forest environment) and links to “everyday” life;
 Guest lectures from field leaders (to provide inspiration and insight into specific areas from a very relevant and timely source, also provides students with a direct example of potential employment opportunities in the area);
 Assessment exercises that reinforce teaching and lead to further development of themes, e.g. group quizzes, group video presentations, literature reviews/essays. A large aspect of which is an effort to promote and make use of peer-to-peer learning;
 Major themes are introduced and returned to in several steps, with increasing complexity and each time drawing on different aspects and applications to demonstrate the practical relevance and significance of those themes.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: 2. Literature review (2 pages + references) Week 6 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: 4. End of module MCQ exam Week 12 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: 1. Apiary practical (lab report) Week 5 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: 3. Video and presentation (group project) Week 9 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the literature review is delivered via Brightspace using a rubric as well as with personalised comments. Students are offered advice of the focus of their review essays. Students have the opportunity to work on the group video project over the course of two in-class sessions during which they receive advice and commentary regarding technical and content-related material prior to the completion of the project. Comments are also offered on one draft of the video. Afterwards, group-based comments and evaluation are delivered to the class.

Name Role
Katherine Burns Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Arrian Karbassioon Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 13:00 - 13:50