In the last decade the plight of wild and domesticated bees has pervaded the media and public discourse, yet bees remain largely misunderstood in our society. This course examines the interconnected relationship between humans and bees and asks what bees can teach us about ourselves and our food systems. Through readings, fieldtrips, and guest lectures, students will examine the social, economic, and political dimensions of human-bee interactions, investigating topics such as: historical and contemporary beekeeping practices; the political economy of honey; the role of pollination in agriculture and agroecosystems; domestication and human-animal relationships; biodiversity loss in agricultural systems; pollinator conservation and policy; and cooperation and decision-making in human and bee societies. A truly human-ecological course, Bees and Society integrates the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences to examine the applied problem of protecting pollinators in a time of abrupt environmental change. Students will be evaluated based on: (1) participation in class discussions, fieldwork, and field trips; (2) a series of short reflection papers; and (3) a final class project. For their final project, students will develop two native bee conservation workshops—one for elementary school students and one for farmers and gardeners—and host the workshops at COA’s farms.
Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.