Listening Section 3: Honeybees in Australia
Listen to the Podcast Part 1
Download the worksheet
An interview with Grant Freeman, Australian quarantine officer.
21 Where in Australia have Asian honey bees been found in the past?
B New South Wales
C Several states
Good morning everyone. I’m sure that you know that the quarantine service regulates all food brought into Australia. Well obviously they want to protect Australia from diseased that might come in with imported goods, but they also want to prevent insect pests from being introduced into the country, and that’s where I have a part to play. Anyway, my current research involves trying to find a particular type of bee, the Asian Honey Bee and finding out whether there are any of them around in various states of Australia. We discovered a few of them in 21. Queensland once and eradicated them. Now we’re pretty keen to make sure that there aren’t any more getting in, particularly to New South Wales and other states.
22 A problem with Asian honey bees is that they
A Attack native bees
B Carry parasites
C Damage crops
What’s wrong with Asian Honey Bees? Are they so different from Australian bees?
Well, in fact they look almost the same, but 22 they are infested with mites – microscopic creatures which live on them, and which can seriously damage our own home-grown bees, or could even wipe them out.
23 What point is made about Australian bees?
A Their honey varies in quality
B Their size stops them from pollinating some flowers
C They are sold to customers abroad
Well what would happen if Australian bees died out?
Well the honey from Australian bees is of excellent quality, much better than the stuff the Asian bees produce. In fact 23 Australia exports native Queen bees to a large number of countries because of this. When the European Honey Bee was first discovered out in the bush, we found they made really unpleasant honey and they were also too big to pollinate many of our native flowers here in Australia.
24 Grant Freeman says that if Asian honey bees got into Australia
A the country’s economy would be affected
B they could be used in the study of allergies
C certain areas of agriculture would benefit
That must have had a devastating effect on the natural flora. Did you lose any species?
No we managed to get them under control before that happened but if Asian bees got in there could be other consequences. 24 We could lose a lot of money because you might not be aware, but it’s estimated that native bees’ pollination of flower and vegetable crops is worth 1.2 billion dollars a year. So in a way they’re the farmers’ friend. Oh and another thing is, if you’re stung by an Asian Honey Bee it can produce an allergic reaction in some people, so they’re much more dangerous than native bees.
Looking for Asian honey bees
Birds called Rainbow Bee Eaters eat only 25 insects and cough up small bits of skeleton and other products in a pellet.
How will you know if Asian bees have entered Australia?
We’re looking at the diet of the bird called the Rainbow Bee Eater. The Bee Eater doesn’t care what it eats, as long as they’re insects. But the interesting thing about this bird is that we are able to analyse exactly what it eats and that’s really helpful if we’re looking for introduced insects.
Researchers go to the locations the bee eaters like to use for 26 feeding. They collect the pellets and take them to a 27 laboratory for analysis.
Insects have their skeletons outside their bodies, so the Bee Eaters digest the meat from the inside, then they bring up all the indigestible bits of skeleton and of course the wings in a pellet – a small ball of waste material which they cough up.
That sounds a bit unpleasant. So how do you go about it?
In the field we track down the Bee Eaters and find their favourite feeding spots, you know, the places where the birds usually feed. It’s here that we can find the pellets. We collect them up and take them back to the laboratory to examine the contents.
Here 28 water is used to soften them, and the researchers look for the 29 wings of Asian bees in the pellets.
How do you do that?
The pellets are really hard, especially if they have been out in the sun for a few days so, first of all, we treat them by adding water to moisten them and make them softer. Then we pull them apart under the microscope. Everything’s all scrunched up but we’re looking for wings so we just pull them all out and straighten them. Then we identify them to see if we can find any Asian bee wings.
The benefit of this research is that the result is more 30 reliable than searching for live Asian bees.
And how many have you found?
So far our research shows that Asian bees have not entered Australia in any numbers – it’s a good result and much more reliable than trying to find live ones as evidence of introduced insects.
Get lots more practise with Listening here
If you found this activity helpful and you’re ready to make a commitment to improving your IELTS score with more materials like this, then come and join us in the Members Academy.
In the Members Academy, you’ll find everything you need in one place. All the materials have been selected and written by me, so that you get exactly what you need to prepare efficiently and effectively.
You also get access to me when you need help!
What are you waiting for?!