Museum Exhibit Review: “Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact” and Their Importance to Our Environment and Agriculture

By Shakila Caldwell-

Over this past Christmas break I visited an exhibit at the Oakland Museum called “Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact.” The exhibit explores the impact bees make on our environment through hands-on activities, real life specimens, and human and bee interactions. A really neat part they have at the exhibit is what they call a “bee diner.” At this diner it lays out menus that include all the foods pollinated by bees. Some of these foods include cilantro, tomatoes, avocados, and almonds. The interaction allows visitors to remove one thing from the menu at a time to show how bland a meal can become without bees pollinating certain crops. In fact, by time I was done removing ingredients my taco was just meat, and I do not know about you guys but I cannot eat a taco without a shell.

My favorite part of the exhibit was the human and bee comparison. Many people are driven by fear and do not realize what bees do for us nor understand that bees help our crops grow. It is all about the hunt. Bees hunt for their food as humans have hunted for theirs in the past. Bees thought process is also similar to ours, which means the way we detect things are almost the same. By showing the surprising similarities between humans and bees, the exhibit proved that there is really nothing to fear.

At the exhibit I also had a chance to talk to Sarah Seiter, the Associate Curator of Natural Sciences at the museum, and she mentioned that every three bites of food a person eats relies on the pollination of bees. However, bees have been declining quite a bit and countries have been reporting losses of bee hives of up to 30%, which poses a huge threat to agriculture. The decline has led to the creation of artificial pollinators. Another interactive activity at the exhibit allowed visitors to experience using an artificial pollinator. Although it can pollinate, it strips crops of natural nutrient and it costs close to $20 million which makes it difficult for many farmers to use.

Overall, I really enjoyed the exhibit. I was very fond of the last section of the exhibit that included TED talks and interactive apps. I also appreciated the kids section that included a range of educational books that my baby loved and the human beehive was pretty cool and educational as well. The hive allowed visitors to pass through in a bee suit and when my baby and I were inside we found that some parts of the hive included parasites that pose a threat to the health of the bees. It was all in all really inspirational and impactful, especially because you could tell how passionate the employees working the exhibit were. Therefore, if you are looking for a fun, interactive, educational experience where you are surrounded by passionate people, this is an exhibit to visit. The exhibit is on display until July 24th, 2016 and the tickets range between $7 and $15. I would check it out if you enjoy seeing things in a different light, because sometimes we do not realize how something so small impacts a big part of our lives.