Last month it was birds and now it’s bees. Guadalajara’s Museum of Paleontology continues its fine tradition of hosting fascinating exhibits which may not have much to do with dinosaur bones, but excel at making natural science interesting and understandable to the average person.
Did you know that to make one kilogram of honey a bee works 320,000 hours and makes 50,000 trips outside the hive? If you would like to know more about what bees do and how they do it, you have plenty of time to plan a visit to “Apidae: El Mundo de las Abejas,” (The World of Bees), an exhibit which opened at the museum on November 25 and will run all the way to April 2, 2018.
If you haven’t previously been interested in bees, maybe you should pay more attention to them …
“Bees are seriously in danger of becoming extinct,” beekeeper Rodrigo Orozco told me. “Millions and millions have been dying in recent years, first starting in Europe and then in Japan, Canada and the United States. At first, no one could figure out what was causing this. Then suspicion fell on certain pesticides chemically similar to nicotine, called neonicotinoids. One of these, Imidacloprid, is the most widely used insecticide in the world.”
Said Orozco: “Now Europeans have told Bayer to temporarily stop production of neonicotinoides and they are waiting to see if bee populations will go back up.
“I fear that if these poisons turn out to be the cause of the bee decline, Mexico will face serious problems in the future because this country has always been the dumping ground for all sorts of lethal products outlawed in the United States.”
As an afterthought, Orozco mentioned that some experts believe the human race cannot hope to survive more than five years without bees.
Thanks to the exhibit, I learned that bees are members of the Hymenoptera Order of insects, which includes more than 200,000 species all over the world. I was also surprised to learn that worker bees don’t do just one job all their lives, as I had supposed. Instead, I found out they work as cell cleaners during their first two months of life. Then they graduate to babysitters, feeding the larvae. At 12 months they join the construction industry and become wall builders. When they are 18 months of age, they work as guards. Only when they reach 22 months do they go out to pollinate flowers, their last job until their death at the ripe old age of around 35 months.
This exhibit was created by Miel Oro, founded in 1974 by Martín Orozco and the biggest supplier of beekeeping equipment in Jalisco. They also sell beehive products such as honey from orange blossoms, mesquite, avocado and tropical flowers, as well as royal jelly and propolis.
“What is propolis?” I asked one visitor to the exhibit. “It’s a natural antibiotic also known as bee glue,” he informed me. “It is said to lower blood pressure, treat allergies and bone diseases and to kill cancer cells and it’s not a new health craze. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used it for healing. Let me tell you how we collect it inside a beehive.”
I had asked the right guy. My informant turned out to be David Campa of the Biocam Bee Farm, which has been selling propolis and other bee-related products for over 25 years. If you are interested, they just happen to be located in Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, near Chapala. Check out their products at Biocam.com.mx.
The Museum of Paleontology is located at Avenida Dr. R. Michel 520 at the corner of Calzada González Gallo in Guadalajara. The telephone is (33) 3619-5560 and 3619-7043 and their website is paleontologia.guadalajara.gob.mx.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is 20 pesos, free for anyone over 60 or under 12. Closed Mondays.
Paleontology museum’s most famous exhibit
Visitors gape at the Paleontology Museum’s mighty mastodon, a gomphotherium discovered on the shore of Lake Chapala during the unusually dry year of 2000. The find was made by mariachi musician Juan Santos Enciso, who was on a family outing on the vast beach near their home in Santa Cruz de la Soledad.