Cornwall & Bees – IELTS General Reading Passage

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-14 which are based on the text below.

GT Reading: CORNWALL & Bees

Read the text below and answer Questions 1-6.

A love affair that lasts a lifetime

It’s hard not to fall in love with Cornwall. For some, it’s the happy memories of a childhood seaside holiday. For others, it’s the brief fling of a teenage summer. For most, it’s a passionate affair that lasts a lifetime… So let the affair begin!

Where is Cornwall?
Located in the far west of Great Britain, Cornwall is almost completely surrounded by the sea and has a magnificent 300-mile coastline. It is also the location of mainland Great Britain’s most southerly promontory, The Lizard, and one of the UK’s most westerly points, Land’s End.

What’s so special about it?
There are lots of things Cornwall is loved for; the dramatic coastline with its captivating fishing harbours; the spectacular beaches and the pounding surf that provide a natural playground for a variety of water sports; and of course the Cornish pasty and cream teas.

Expect the unexpected
But there are also lots of things about Cornwall that may surprise you. For instance, the wilderness of Bodmin Moor with its panorama of big skies. There’s also the dynamic art scene found mainly in West Cornwall, inspired by the naturally stunning landscapes. More recently, Cornwall has become known for a food scene to rival London and beyond.

History and culture
Cornwall also has a tremendous history based on its Celtic roots; its Celtic Cornish culture; the warmth and friendliness of the people; and the Cornish language that can be seen in the village names. Cornwall is truly unique.

Why not visit some of Cornwall’s most iconic experiences. From towering castles, beautiful gardens and places steeped in legends and history, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here are a few to get you started.

Trebah Garden – near Falmouth
One of the great gardens of Cornwall and rated among the 80 finest gardens in the world, discover the magic of this beautiful Cornish valley garden with over four miles of footpath.

Lanhydrock – Bodmin
Lanhydrock boasts a magnificent late Victorian country house with gardens and the wooded estate. Discover two sides of Victorian life: those ‘below stairs’, and those ‘upstairs’.

Geevor Tin Mine – near Penzance
Geevor tin mine is one of the largest preserved mine sites in the country and a Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. Housed in two acres of listed buildings, Geevor’s collections and guides bring the story of Cornwall’s rich industrial past to life.

Questions 1-6

Complete the sentences below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.

1.  Cornwall has stunning coastal views including the most …………………… point in Great Britain.
2.  Apart from the coastal views, the amazing landscapes have inspired an unexpected but thriving …………………… .
3.  Cornwall can now be compared to …………………… for its food and amazing chefs.
4.  One thing that makes Cornwall different from the rest of England is its …………………… heritage.
5.  The perfect place to discover insights into lifestyles from a bygone era is ………………….. .
6.  The perfect place to discover insights into Cornwall’s industrial past is a …………………… .

Read the text below and answer Questions 7– 14.


Worker bees are between 8-19mm in length. They are divided into three distinct parts; head, thorax, abdomen. They have an almost completely black head, a thorax that is golden brown and black with patches of orange, and yellow bands can be easily seen on the abdomen. At the front of the head are two antennae for sensing their environment.

They have four single wings. The largest are called forewings and the smallest hindwings. The hind legs are specialized for collecting pollen – each leg is flattened to form a pollen basket near the end of each leg.

Love them or hate them, we need bees to pollinate many important food crops, including most fruit and vegetables. Bee-pollinated crops are important sources of vitamins A and C, and minerals like calcium. By pollinating attractive wildflowers like bluebells and poppies, bees also help support the natural environment that people love – benefitting us culturally and economically, as well as ecologically. Calculations from the University of Reading show that £510 million of annual total crop sales in the UK are pollinated by bees and other insects.

What would happen if there were suddenly no more bees to pollinate these crops? This is a question being asked by farmers, beekeepers, and scientists because bees are now dying in their millions and they want to know why.

It’s widely recognised now that changes in agriculture are the main cause of bee decline across Europe. For example, hay meadows, which are full of many different plant species, have declined by 97 per cent since the 1930s, removing an important source of food for bees.

This has happened because of the trend towards growing the same crop (monocultures) over large fields. This has reduced the diversity of flowers available and resulted in the removal of hedges. Species that have more specialised food needs, like the Shrill Carder Bee, have been particularly hard hit. It is now listed as an endangered species.

With less hedges, bees find it more difficult to move between feeding and nesting sites. This is because hedges act as corridors for bees to move along, but with less hedges movement becomes more difficult.

Pests and diseases are also a major threat to honey bees and other managed bees. The Varroa mite is thought to be one of the main causes of native honeybee loss. The impact on wild bees is harder to assess but ‘spill-over’ of diseases and pests between wild and managed bees has increasingly been observed.

Climate change has an effect as it can alter the timing of plant flowering or the time that bees come out of hibernation, which means bees may emerge before there is enough food available.

Questions 7 – 14

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 7-14 on your answer sheet.

7.  Apart from pollinating crops how else do bees help us?
A. economically
B. culturally
C. ecologically
D. all of the above

8.  Why has the variety of flowers available for bees to pollinate fallen?
A. conservation measures
B. less hedges
C. fertilizers
D. urban development

9.  There are many reasons for the decline in bees but what is one of the major reasons for shrinking numbers of native honey bees?
A. Varroa mites
B. spill-over
C. managed bees
D. hard to assess

10.  Why might bees end their hibernation at a different time?
A. to pollinate more flowers
B. to get more food
C. climate change
D. to emerge with other bees

Questions 11 – 14

The diagram below shows the worker bee.

Label the diagram.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 11-14 on your answer sheet.

1. southerly
2. art scene
3. London
4. Celtic
5. Lanhydrock
6. tin mine
7. B
8. A
9. D
10. C
11. forewing // forewings
12. antennae
13. hindwing // hindwings
14. pollen basket