The Reading section of the IELTS Academic lasts 60 minutes. It is made up of 40 questions. It is composed of 3 long texts on general academic subjects from books, newspapers, journals, or magazines, written for a non-specialist public. There will be 2150 to 2750 words and 40 questions (of 1 point each) in total.
The texts can be in different formats (a story, a description, an argument, etc.) and at least one of them will have an argument. They can also be accompanied by graphics such as a diagram or illustration. These 3 exercises are of the same kind. There are no directions that differ from text to text.
The Reading exercises of the IELTS Academic evaluate your general comprehension of a text as well as its structure and details.
The Life of a Bee
Bees, with their translucent wings and tiny furry black and gold striped bodies, have been around for millions of years. Best known for the honey they produce, their dwindling numbers are now a cause for concern.
Globally, there are known to be some 20,000 different species of bees. The smallest, the Perdita Minima is just 2 millimetres in length, and the largest — the Megachile Pluto — is around 4.5 centimetres long. Honey bees, by comparison, are usually around 15 millimetres in length.
The lifespan of a honey bee varies depending on the job of the bee, the climate, and the season the bee is born in. There are four stages in the lifecycle of a bee, and reaching maturity takes between 16 and 24 days, depending on whether the bee is a queen, worker, or drone.
The queen is the only bee in the colony to lay eggs, and she will lay up to 3,000 eggs a day into little individual honeycomb cells. Fertilized eggs hatch into worker bees, and are all female. The unfertilized eggs grow into the male drones.
Three days after they are laid, the eggs hatch and larvae are born. These immature bees have no legs, wings, or antennae, and resemble small worms in appearance. The larvae are all fed royal jelly for the first 2-3 days, but the diet of the workers and drones changes to pollen and honey after this, while any larvae that will develop into queens continue to be fed royal jelly.
The larvae are trapped in their honeycomb cells by wax. They produce their own cocoons around their bodies and slowly change into pupa. This process is known as pupating. At this stage, the bees begin to resemble adults with their legs, wings, eyes, thorax, abdomen, and head developing.
At around 7 to 14 days the bee eats its way out of the cell and hatches as an adult.
Honey bees live in large, well-organized family groups, consisting of thousands of bees who cooperate and communicate to build complex nests, control their environments, defend their nests, and divide their labour: all of which are essential for a successful colony to exist and thrive.
A colony consists of one queen, several thousand workers, and several hundred drones, each of which have their own role to perform to maximise the efficiency and success of the colony. Colonies have been known to have up to 60,000 worker bees. None of the bees can survive without the support of its colony mates.
The queen, who is generally larger than all the other bees in the colony, only has one job: reproduction, and she produces both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. At certain times year, like spring and early summer, she could be laying up to 1,500 eggs daily. In the winter, she normally doesn’t lay eggs. A single queen may lay up to a quarter of a million eggs yearly, adding up to over a million during her life. Queens live far longer than other bees, with 2-3 years being normal, although 5 years has also been known.
The queen’s pheromones keep the colony unified and functioning together and the strength and quality of the colony all comes down to the eggs laid by the queen.
Male bees are known as drones and are usually only around in late spring and summer. They normally rely on the worker bees for food, and eat about three times as much food as the workers do. The drones only job is to fertilize the queen, which they do in flight, about a week after emerging from their cocoons. They die straight after mating, which takes pressure away from the resources of the colony. If they are still living when the cold weather hits, they are usually expelled from the hive and left to fend for themselves.
Worker bees are female, but they don’t lay eggs. They look after the condition of the hives, take care of the queen, and do everything else that is needed to keep the colony functioning, safe, and thriving. They generally live for about 6 weeks, although 6 months has been known.
The worker bees produce honey by collecting the nectar from flowers. This nectar is stored inside the honeycomb after being broken down into simple sugars. The bees constantly fan this with their wings which, along with the design of the honeycomb, causes evaporation, which produces the honey.
Bees don’t just collect pollen for honey but are an essential part of the ecosystem. Along with other pollinators, the Food and Agricultural Organization estimates around 35% of all agricultural land around the world is directly affected by bees. This includes the production of 87 of the main food crops globally and the majority of the wild plants on the planet.
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