Listening Topic: Life Sciences – classroom lecture on bees

A. Listen to a lecture about bees. Number the topics in the order they are mentioned.

___ How the bee carries nectar

___ Bee communication

___ Structure of the hive

___ How many kinds of bees there are

___ How bees make honey

B. Listen to the lecture again. Write T for true or F for false for each statement. Listen again if necessary.

 Bees can only survive in warm places.

 There are 2200 different kinds of bees that have been named.

 A female worker bee goes to different flowers to collect nectar.

 Only one bee works on the nectar to make it into honey.

 The kind of flower the nectar comes from affects the flavor of the honey.

 The worker bee carries nectar in a bag on its stomach.

7   The hive has two different kinds of bees in it.

 Most bees in a hive are drones.

 Bees communicate about the location, quantity, and quality of food.

10   Bees communicate by moving their bodies in a certain pattern.



3 5 4 1 2


1 2 F   3 T   4 F   5 T   6 T

7 8 F   9 T   10 T


A = Teacher, B = Student 1, C = Student 2, D = Student 3

A:   Good afternoon. In today’s class we’re going to be talking about bees. What do you know about bees? OK, so you think you don’t know a lot. What, could you repeat that?

B:   All I know is that it hurts when they sting me.

A:   Yes, it does hurt. And that’s what most of us think about when we think about bees. But, in fact, bees play an important role in nature. Did you know that bees are mentioned in almost every religion and literature of the world? Imagine. You probably think of bees in warm places, but they actually survive in all kinds of places: the Himalayas and even in the Arctic tundra. So, they’ve been around for a very long time and live in most parts of our world. And, there isn’t just one kind of bee. Does anyone want to guess how many different species have been named? Yes?

C:   Maybe a few hundred?

A:   No, there are more than that. Any other guesses? No? OK, there are 22,000 kinds of bees that have been named. Yes, there are a lot of different kinds, aren’t there?

Let’s talk about the kind of bee that makes honey, the honeybee. Who knows how the honeybee makes money?

D:   It starts with flowers, right? They go around to different flowers and take the nectar, but I’m not sure about the rest.

A:   Yes, that’s right. A female worker bee goes around to all different flowers and gathers nectar. Then, she goes back to the hive – we’ll talk about the structure of the hive in a minute. And, how is the nectar changed to honey? Anyone? No? OK, the worker bee passes the nectar on to another bee, and the nectar gets passed from one bee to another. Each bee works with it and gradually more and more moisture goes out of the nectar. And finally, it’s stored on the comb. And over time more nectar is gathered, more honey made and added to the comb. Now, you know that different honeys have different flavors. If you’ve never thought about it before, you can probably guess why. The bee picking up the nectar visits a lot of flowers, and each different flower adds a different flavor to the final product of honey.

C:   Excuse me, can you explain how the worker bee carries the nectar back to the hive?

A:   Yes, good question. She carries it in a bag on her stomach – not surprisingly called the honey sac. When this bag is full, she returns to the hive with all the nectar. Now, let’s talk about the structure of the hive. There are three kinds of bees in the hive – the female worker bees as we’ve talked about, then the male bees, called drones, and then the queen. There could be up to 200,000 worker bees in a hive, but more typically there are more like 50,000. Then, there are only a few hundred drones, and finally, there’s only one queen per hive.

B:   How many worker bees did you say?

A:   There can be as many as … as 200,000 but there’s more likely around 50,000. OK? Next let’s talk about communication among bees. It turns out that bees can communicate to some extent. They can actually let other bees know about the location of food, not just where it is, but how good it is and how much there is. The bees do a kind of dance, moving around in the air. It’s actually called a waggle dance because of the way they move their bodies. Apparently, the size and pattern of this movement is what gives the other bees the information. An Austrian zoologist named Karl von Frisch did experiments to learn about this.

D:   Can you repeat that zoologist’s name, please?

A:   Yes, it’s Karl von Frisch.

D:   Thank you.

A:   OK, let’s look at some slides…

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