Bumblebee conservation Reading Ielts Answers and Questions

The Blog post contains the following IELTS Reading Questions:

  • IELTS Reading Multiple choice questions
  • IELTS Reading Yes/No or Not Given


Bumblebee conservation

Bumblebees are major pollinators of a majority of our flora. If bumblebees continue to disappear, these plants will produce fewer seeds, potentially resulting in gradual but sweeping changes to the countryside. It may ultimately become dominated by an entirely different suite of plants that do not require bumblebee pollination. Clovers, vetches, and many rare plants may disappear. Indeed, there is evidence that this process is already underway. These changes will have catastrophic knock-on effects for other wildlife dependent on these plants. As such, it is often argued that bumblebees are a keystone species and that they are a conservation priority.

Bumblebees are also of commercial importance, being vital to the agricultural industry. Many arable and horticultural crops depend on bumblebees for pollination to varying degrees. Some, like oilseed rape, can prodeced adequate seed without bumblebees provided there are sufficient honeybees, but others, such as raspberries and several types of beans, are heavily dependent on bumblebees; without them, there would be little or no crop to harvest. There is already evidence that in some regions where fields are large and there are few hedgerows (in which bumblebee queens forage in spring and build their nests), crop yields are depressed due to a shortage of bumblebees. 

It is thus essential that we take measures to conserve our remaining bumblebee populations, and if possible restore them to something like their past abundance. This cannot be achieved with existing nature reserves. Bumblebee nests are large, containing up to 400 sterile workers, each of which travels more than 1 km from the colony in search of suitable flowers. Each nest needs many hectares of suitable flower-rich habitat, meaning that to support a healthy population that is viable in the long term, large areas of land must be managed sympathetically. UK nature reserves are simply too small. The only way to provide sufficient areas of habitat for bumblebees is if the wider, farmed countryside, and the vast areas covered by suburban gardens, are managed in a suitable way.

To achieve this, farmers should be encouraged to adopt wildlife-friendly farming methods through uptake of the Entry Level Stewardship scheme (ELS). The replanting of hedgerows and the recreation of hay meadow and chalk grassland habitats need to be supported. These activities will not be at the expense of farming but will benefit it, by improving crops yields at the same time as enriching the countryside. Meanwhile, in gardens nationwide, 162 wildflowers and traditional cottage-garden plants can be used to help increase bumblebee populations.

Many wildflowers have become more scarce in farmland, through the loss of hedgerows, hay meadows, chalk grassland, and because of pesticide use. As a result, gardens have become a stronghold for some bumblebee species, for they can provide a wealth of flowers. Throughout the UK, it should be possible to attract at least 6 bumblebees species to a garden, and perhaps as many as 10. Some of the rarer species tend not to visit exotic garden flowers, preferring native British wildflowers. Many of these thrive and look superb in a garden. They are also easy to grow, generally being hardy and much more resistant to slugs, mildew, etc. than exotic garden flowers. Most of these plants will also attract a range of other interesting insects to the garden, including butterflies and honeybees.

Seeds of some wildflowers such as foxgloves and cowslips can readily be bought in most garden centres, but the range is usually very limited. A far greater selection is available by mail order from specialist companies. However, there is much to be said for collecting the seeds yourself from the wild. Collecting a handful of seeds will have no impact on the plant population in most cases, and there is a strong conservation argument for use of local seeds; it helps to propagate and conserve the local race of the plant species. Using locally-collected seeds ensures that the plants grown are adapted to local conditions, and they are more likely to flourish. Introduce a poorly adapted race from miles away and not only are they less likely to survive, but they may also interbreed with wild plants nearby and water down the unique genetic character of the local race. So if possible, wildflower seeds should be gathered from close to home. This of course also has the added advantage that it is free!

Collecting seeds requires patience. Wildflower seeds are available commercially all year round, but when collecting them from the wild it is necessary to wait for the right time of year. Most wildflower seeds are very easy to collect. Generally, it is best to sow the seeds immediately since this is the time at which they would naturally be scattered on the ground near the parent plant. 


Questions 1-6

Reading Passage has seven paragraphs, A-G. Choose the most suitable heading for paragraphs B-G from the list of headings below.

List of Headings

  1. Getting the agricultural industry to help
  2. Keeping bumblebees away from gardens
  3. Effects of the disappearance of bumblebees
  4. The importance of gardens
  5. Getting help from TV programmes about gardening
  6. Obtaining wildflower seeds from the countryside
  7. Obtaining wildflower seeds 
  8. The economic importance of bumblebees
  9. The future of bumblebee conservation 
  10. The necessary conditions for bumblebee conservation
  11. Why farming is killing bumblebees

Example Answer

Paragraph A        iii

  1. Paragraph B
  2. Paragraph C
  3. Paragraph D
  4. Paragraph E
  5. Paragraph F
  6. Paragraph G

Questions 7-10

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

7. According to the information in the text, the decline of bumblebees will

  • cause the extinction of other species.
  • cause serious problems for gardeners.
  • cause significant environmental problems.
  • cause farmers to go out of business.

8. According to the information in the text, problems caused by the decline of bumblebees

  • will start to occur soon.
  • may have started to occur.
  • have started to occur.
  • is already quite serious.

9. According to the information in the text, farmers should be encouraged to 

  • recreate bumblebee habitats.
  • spend money on conservation.
  • introduce bumblebees to their land.
  • use more traditional farming methods.

10. According to the information in the text, collecting wildflower seeds from the wild

  • is easier than buying them.
  • has great benefits for the environment.
  • can be done all year round.
  • should preferably be done locally.

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Questions 11-13

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer?

YES               if the statement reflects the claims of the writer

NO                 if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer

NOT GIVEN  if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

11. Simple and cost-effective measures will reverse bumblebee decline.

12. Ordinary people can do much to help the bumblebee.

13. Most people are unaware of the value of bumblebees.

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Answers For Bumblebee conservation

1. Answer: viii

2. Answer: x

3. Answer: i

4. Answer: iv

5. Answer: vii

6. Answer: vi

7. Answer: C

8. Answer: C

9. Answer: A

10. Answer: D

11. Answer: Yes

12. Answer: Yes

13. Answer: Not given


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