Bees Get Addicted To Caffeine Contained In Flowers, And Keep Coming Back For More

Posted: Oct 16 2015, 7:51am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Bees Get Addicted To Caffeine Contained In Flowers, And Keep Coming Back For More
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The fact that bees like caffeine and get obsessed with plant flowers containing the compound may sound ridiculous to many observers, but that is the result of a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The researchers from the University of Sussex explained that honeybees get addicted to plant caffeine the moment they get exposed to it via the flower nectar, and keep buzzing round the particular plant flower containing the compound several times a day or within the week to get more high.

"If a bee goes to a caffeinated plant, it's still getting nectar – it's getting a reward, so it's not a complete and total disaster," said lead study author Margaret Couvillon of the University of Sussex in an interview with the Washington Post, who added that bees addicted to caffeine make poor judgments that affect their colony; because they visit other plants or forage wider less.

The researchers felt inclined to carry out the study because of past studies which suggested that bees exposed to caffeine remember the plants containing them for longer periods of time, and they get to identify the plant or flowers more among others.

During the experiment, the researchers found that bees exposed to caffeine actually forage more, and they danced round the caffeinated flowers about four more times to alert other bees to the plant than they did with flowers that lacked caffeine; and in the process they ignored other nutritious and decaffeinated plant nectars.

"One thing that really surprised me was how long the effect lasted," Couvillon said. "We saw that if they just had one, three-hour exposure to the caffeinated nectar on the first day, they would come back [to the empty feeder] for many more days, and more often within each day."

Control bees were used for control experiment during the study. Control bees were bees that was not exposed to caffeine. These checked out flowers they visited before but quickly moved away to others or foraged wider for more nectar.

"If they've had caffeine, they're less likely to check the surrounding area," the authors of the study said. "They're really hooked on that location. But the caffeine seems to be drugging the bees."

The study "Caffeinated Forage Tricks Honeybees into Increasing Foraging and Recruitment Behaviors" has been published in Current Biology.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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