yellow sunflower in close up photography
Type: Reading
Originally published on October 29, 2023

Honeybees are an interesting topic for ESL learners to read and talk about. It is not a very common topic which means learners will likely be exposed to vocabulary they don’t use on a regular basis. The text below is take from the National Geographic website and can be found here.

Ask your students to read the following text, or listen as you read it to them. When finished check their understanding by asking the questions directly below the text before moving on to discuss the conversation questions.

Reading Comprehension Text: About Honeybees

Honeybees live in colonies with one queen running the whole hive. Worker honeybees are all females and are the only bees most people ever see flying around outside of the hive. They forage for food, build the honeycombs, and protect the hive.

Many species still occur in the wild, but honeybees are disappearing from hives due to colony collapse disorder. Scientists are not sure what is causing this collapse.

Honeybees are important pollinators for flowers, fruits, and vegetables. They live on stored honey and pollen all winter and cluster into a ball to conserve warmth. All honeybees are social and cooperative insects. Members of the hive are divided into three types. Workers forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, clean, and circulate air by beating their wings. The queen’s job is simple—she lays the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. There is usually only a single queen in a hive. If the queen dies, workers will create a new queen by feeding one of the worker females a special food called “royal jelly.” This elixir enables the worker to develop into a fertile queen.

Queens regulate the hive’s activities by producing chemicals that guide the behaviour of the other bees. Male bees are called drones—the third class of honeybee. Several hundred drones live in each hive during the spring and summer, but they are expelled for the winter months when the hive goes into a lean survival mode.

Answer The Questions Below To Check Your Understanding

  • Who is in charge of the honeybee colony, and what is her role?
  • What are the main responsibilities of worker honeybees?
  • Why are honeybees essential for flowers, fruits, and vegetables?
  • How do honeybees create a new queen if the current queen dies?

Some Conversation Questions About Honey Bees

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  • Do you think humans have a responsibility to protect honeybee populations?
  • Should governments implement stricter regulations to protect honeybees?
  • Would you like to be a beekeeper?
This conversation topic was prepared by Gregory

Gregory is a qualified TEFL teacher who has been teaching English as a Foreign Language (ESL) for over a decade. He has taught in-person classes in Spain and to English learners around the world online.