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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam. How are you, Neil?

  • I've been as busy as a bee

  • this week, Sam.

  • Oh, don't you sound like the bee's knees!

  • All right, Sam, there's no need

  • to get a bee in your bonnet!

  • As you can hear, English is full

  • of idioms involving bees.

  • But the sad truth is that bee numbers are

  • declining at an alarming rate and in some

  • places disappearing altogether.

  • And this has serious consequences

  • for humans.

  • Today, one third of the food we eat

  • depends on insects to pollinate crops,

  • fruit and vegetables.

  • But bees are in trouble. In some European

  • countries up to half of all bee species are

  • facing extinction, placing our

  • food supply chain at risk.

  • Bees are vital in pollinating hundreds

  • of crops, from apples and

  • blackberries to cucumbers.

  • In fact, almost all plants need insects to

  • reproduce - which is my quiz question - of

  • the world's top 50 crops, how many

  • rely on insect pollination? Is it:

  • a) 35 out of 50?, b) 40 out of 50?

  • or c) 45 out of 50?

  • I reckon those busy bees pollinate

  • b) 40 out of 50 of the most

  • common crops.

  • OK, Sam, we'll find out the answer later.

  • Now, if you think back

  • to your school biology

  • lessons, you may remember

  • that plants and flowers contain

  • both male and female reproductive

  • parts inside.

  • But what exactly is going on when bees

  • pollinate a plant? Here's Claire Bates

  • from BBC World

  • Service programme People

  • Fixing the World to remind us:

  • What is pollination? All flowering plants

  • need it to reproduce.

  • Pollen is moved from

  • the male part of a flower

  • to the female part of a flower, then

  • fertilisation can happen

  • causing fruit to grow. Some staple crops

  • such as wheat, rice and

  • corn are pollinated by

  • the wind however many plants

  • don't release their pollen easily

  • and this is where insects,

  • and especially bees, come in.

  • As they collect nectar to eat,

  • pollen sticks to them and they

  • carry it from flower to flower.

  • Pollination is the process in which pollen

  • is taken from one plant to another so that

  • it can reproduce. This is the important

  • work done by bees and insects.

  • Only after pollination can the next

  • process occur - fertilisation - when

  • the pollen carried

  • from another plant fertilises

  • a female ovule to make new seeds.

  • Fertilisation occurs in all flowering plants,

  • some of which like wheat,

  • potatoes and rice

  • are staple crops - food that is eaten

  • in large amounts as part

  • of a community's daily diet

  • and provides a large fraction of their

  • energy and nutrient needs.

  • Fewer bees reduces pollination levels,

  • meaning fewer new seeds

  • are created and fewer crops

  • grown.

  • But it isn't just the decline in bee numbers

  • causing a problem. Like us,

  • bees need to rest

  • and this has led some to come up

  • with creative new ways

  • of supplementing bee pollination.

  • One such innovator is Keren Mimran,

  • co-founder of agro-tech company,

  • Edete. Here she is,

  • explaining how dropping pollen from

  • drones can pollinate crops,

  • giving a helping hand

  • to hard-working bees.

  • How come our food security is so much

  • dependent on an insect that

  • we cannot really control?

  • We can bring the bees to the orchard

  • or to a field but we cannot

  • control their behaviour.

  • They do not come out of the hive when

  • it's raining or when there's

  • heavy wind, they work

  • only during daytime. There must be

  • a possibility of developing

  • a mechanical solution to the

  • pollination challenge.

  • Keren Mimran there, speaking on the BBC

  • World Service programme People Fixing

  • The World. Bees' behaviour

  • can't be controlled - when it rains they

  • won't leave their hive - the structure

  • where bees

  • live, either built by people or

  • made by the bees themselves.

  • So Keren's company has developed

  • drones to drop pollen on

  • her orchard - an area of land

  • on which fruit trees are grown.

  • The need for these high-tech solutions

  • reflects the seriousness

  • of the pollination problem

  • for food security - everyone getting

  • enough affordable and nutritious food

  • to meet their

  • daily dietary needs.

  • I had no idea bees were so important,

  • Neil. Maybe I underestimated

  • how hard they work.

  • Ah, you mean today's quiz question.

  • I asked you how many of the top

  • 50 world crops rely

  • on insect pollination.

  • And I said b) 40 out of 50

  • of the top crops.

  • And you are right! They certainly are the

  • bee's knees when it comes

  • to pollinating plants!

  • So in today's programme we've

  • been hearing about the important role

  • bees play in pollination

  • - transferring pollen from plant to plant,

  • necessary for the

  • next stage of fertilisation

  • - producing new seeds and

  • fruit inside a plant.

  • Bees and insects play a vital

  • role in growing the world's

  • staple crops - food which, eaten

  • in large amounts, makes up the majority

  • of a community's daily diet

  • and meets their nutrient needs.

  • So bee numbers are directly linked to the

  • issue of food security - everyone getting

  • enough affordable,

  • nutritious food to meet

  • their dietary needs.

  • Which explains why, when bees

  • won't leave their home - or hive - some

  • people have started

  • using drones to pollinate their orchards -

  • land growing fruit trees.

  • And that's it for this edition of

  • 6 Minute English. Bye for now!

  • Goodbye!

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Is there a future without bees? - Listen to 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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