Todays lesson: Whats the buzz? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Posted: May 19, 2020 at 9:49 am

Learn new things, test your understanding and practice writing skills. These lessons are provided free by Achieve3000, an educational technology company that works with schools to enhance comprehension, vocabulary and writing proficiency for students in grades 2 through 12.

Step 1: Write your answer to the questions below before reading the article.

Scientists recently found a rare, seldom-seen species of bee in Indonesia. They took pictures, but they wont say exactly where in Indonesia they found the bee.

What do you think?

When it comes to rare insects, scientists should tell everything they know.

Do you agree or disagree?

Step 2: Read the article below.

LABUHA, Indonesia Bee lovers have something wonderful to buzz about. A rare species, seen only twice in about 120 years, was rediscovered in January 2019. To entomologists, the news was like honey on the comb.

But brace yourself. This isnt your everyday buzzer.

The Wallaces giant bee is four to five times bigger than any youve ever seen before. At about an inch and a half (4 centimeters) long, with a wingspan of nearly two and a half inches (6 centimeters), it is the largest bee on the planet.

Its also one of the most mysterious. In fact, many scientists thought it was extinct.

It wasnt, of course. But then again, who could tell? This insect has been seen and documented in the wild only three times in as many centuries. British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was the first to document seeing the bee. He spotted it on the Indonesian island of Bacan in 1858. The bee was named in his honor.

The second documented sighting was in 1981. Thats when entomologist Adam Messer found a few of the bees on an archipelago in Indonesia. Messer did not film or photograph them, though.

Then came the third sighting.

On a trip to Indonesia in January 2019, a team of scientists from Australia, the U.S. and Canada, along with natural history photographer Clay Bolt, struck apian pay dirt. They had come to the North Moluccas islands in search of the mysterious bee as part of Global Wildlife Conservations Search for Lost Species program. They got what they were looking for. Bolts cameras captured the first images of a live mega-bee.

The team found the female bee on the side of a tree. It was in a termite nest. Female Wallaces giant bees create living quarters among the termites by burrowing tunnels and cells. They use their enormous mandibles to scrape up tree resin. Then they roll the resin into a ball and line the nest with it. Now thats how you keep termites out.

Bolt and the scientists were excited. They were amazed not only by the creatures size but also by its unusual sound. And even thats big. The Wallaces giant bee has a rich, deep drone. Its wings are so large, you can hear them humming as the bee flies by.

But even this beast of a bee faces threats. Since 2001, Indonesia has lost nearly 15 percent of its trees to agricultural development. Without conservation, the giant bee may be out of a home by the end of the century.

Another threat comes from the marketplace. In 2018, a dead Wallaces giant bee made its way onto eBay. It sold for $9,100.

Now, entomologists fear that bee hunters will make a beeline to Indonesia, bug-eyed with dollar signs. To be safe, Bolt and the scientists have not said where exactly they spotted their bee.

Maybe the Wallaces giant bee will disappear for another century or two. Who can blame it? That just might be its way to live and buzz another day.

Step 3: In a letter to a friend, discuss the Wallaces giant bee and why it is considered a rare species. Be sure to include information about the latest sighting of the bee in your answer. Use descriptive phrases from the text, such as buzz about and bug-eyed, too.

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Todays lesson: Whats the buzz? - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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