Why Do We Keep Bees?


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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A small insect flies over a field of flowers. Its wings move very fast. It has yellow and black lines on its body. It flies from one flower to another gathering a substance called pollen. It will use this pollen to make a sticky sweet food called honey. This insect is a bee. When it is done gathering pollen it flies back to its hive. It is the bee’s home, made by a human.

Voice 2 

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world keep bees. They are beekeepers. They give the bees a home. In return, they harvest part of the honey the bees make each year. Today’s Spotlight is on beekeeping.

Voice 1 

People can find honey in the wild. And some people climb trees and high cliffs to find it too. But this is dangerous. People can fall and get hurt. Or the bees can sting. Bees have sharp little stingers, like needles, that can hurt people. Because of this, people began beekeeping.

Voice 2 

The first beekeepers lived thousands of years ago in Egypt and China. They made hives for the bees out of old trees, clay or straw. These hives were easy to reach and people could harvest the honey. Over many years, people have improved beekeeping. They invented new types of hives and new methods. Now there are thousands of people who keep bees around the world.

Voice 1 

Gwendolyn is one of these beekeepers. She shared her story on the blog School of Bees. She first became interested in bees by watching her father. Her father kept two hives. So, she took a class about beekeeping. After the class, she decided to become a beekeeper. She says,

Voice 3 

“The way the teacher spoke suggested to me that beekeeping will teach me far more about myself than I ever set out to learn. Something about beekeeping has always struck me as magical. The bees exist in a universe next to my own. When we connect with the world of bees, we learn more about our own world, and about ourselves.”

Voice 2 

Bees live in groups called colonies. Colonies can have up to about 60,000 individual bees. But not all bees are the same. There are three kinds of jobs that bees can have. The first is the queen. There is only one queen in each colony. She stays in the hive and lays eggs. The second job is a worker. Worker bees are female bees that do not mate. They find food, make honey, defend the hive, and more! The third bee job is a drone. The drone bees are all male. Their job is to mate with the queen. There are thousands of worker bees. But only a few hundred drones.

Voice 1 

Today, most hives are made from wood. They look like a tall box. The bottom part of the box is called the “brood chamber.” This is where the queen lives and lays her eggs. The top part of the box is called the “honey super.” This is where the worker bees make honey. The beekeeper harvests honey from the honey super.

Voice 2 

Beekeepers use special clothes and tools when they work with bees. They wear a white jacket and a hat with a veil. A veil is a see-through piece of cloth worn over the face. It protects beekeepers from stings. They also use a tool called a smoker. It is a metal can that pumps out smoke. The smoke calms the bees. This makes it easier for the beekeeper to inspect the hives and harvest the honey. Another tool is called a “hive tool”. It is a long, thin piece of metal. Bees create a kind of sticky glue when they build their homes. The beekeeper uses the hive tool to carefully open the hive and separate the honeycomb.

Voice 1 

People decide to become a beekeeper for different reasons. Some people, like Gwendolyn, do it for fun. This is called recreational beekeeping.

Voice 2 

Other people practice beekeeping to earn money. They sell the honey or other products the bees make, like wax. In the city of Detroit in the United States, Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey decided to start a beekeeping business. Paule and Lindsey buy empty pieces of land in the city. Then they turn them into bee farms. They sell the honey to local people. They also educate the community about the importance of bees. Paule told the news site Huffpost,

Voice 4 

“We are inventors and thinkers. Bees work really hard. And they are humble. In Detroit, you have to work hard and be humble. It will take you far.”

Voice 1 

People all around the world keep bees. The BBC tells about beekeeping in some parts of Ethiopia. There, people have been beekeeping for many generations. In the Harenna Forest, beekeepers build hives out of wood and bamboo. Then they place them high up in the trees. This is a traditional method. It helps the bees find the hives more easily. And it protects them from animals that would destroy the hives. People in Ethiopia sell the honey to earn money. They also use it as food for themselves. Honey and bread is a common food. Honey is even used to treat a few sicknesses.

Voice 2 

Beekeeping can also help reduce poverty in some countries. One organization, called Bees for Development, teaches people in poor communities all over the world how to keep bees. The people can sell the honey and earn extra money. One woman in Ethiopia was able to earn enough money for a vegetable garden and schoolbooks for her children.

Voice 1 

Beekeeping is not for everyone though. Some people are allergic to bees. This means their bodies react very badly to bee stings. A bee sting could be deadly. And some people do not live in a place that is good for keeping bees - like the middle of a city. There are also local laws about beekeeping that say where you can and cannot keep bees. Beekeeping can be difficult too. Sometimes the bee colony can die from diseases. Or they decide to leave the hive. But for many beekeepers, the joys are greater than the difficulties. Would you ever want to become a beekeeper? Do you buy any products made by bees? Tell us about it on our website, Facebook, or YouTube.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Hannah Koning. The producer was James Totton. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Why Do We Keep Bees?”

Voice 1 

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you buy products made by bees? Do you know anyone who keeps bees?

Comments


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Honneur
said on March 10, 2020

Yes, I like bee products. I eat constantly honey with bananas or bread. It’s delicious and healthy, but I’ll never be a beekeeper because I live in a big city and I don’t want to move my residence elsewhere. Bees are admirable animals that show us how to work collectively in peace.