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Bees, Caffeine Have a Buzzing Relationship, Scientists Find

Image: Bees, Caffeine Have a Buzzing Relationship, Scientists Find
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By    |   Friday, 16 Oct 2015 08:03 AM

Bees, it turns out, love caffeine just as much as humans.

According to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, biologists found during a recent experiment that, when given the choice between regular nectar and decaf nectar, bees overwhelmingly go for the caffeine boost — and they tell their friends.

For the experiment, researchers from England's University of Sussex Switzerland's University of Bern set up two artificial nectar feeders, one with an "unscented sucrose solution" and the other with a "caffeine at a concentration found naturally in nectar."

The bees who drank from the caffeinated solution returned to it far more frequently than the bees who drank from the non-caffeinated solution, they found.

Moreover, the bees buzzing on caffeine returned to the hive and performed more "waggle dances" than their counterparts, signaling to them that the good stuff was nearby.

"The effect of caffeine is akin to drugging, where the honey bees are tricked into valuing the forage as a higher quality than it really is," said Roger Schürch, a biostatistician at the University of Bern's Clinical Trials Unit, according to CNET.com. "The duped pollinators forage and recruit accordingly."

Unfortunately for the bees, and the plants they pollinate, the caffeinated nectar also caused them to forage less in other locations.

"Overall, caffeine causes bees to overestimate forage quality, tempting the colony into sub-optimal foraging strategies, which makes the relationship between pollinator and plant less mutualistic and more exploitative," said the study's summary.

The new bee study comes on the heels of another study published in July that found that the coffee berry borer beetle of Central Africa burrows into and eats coffee beans, regularly consuming the equivalent of 500 espresso shots for a 150-pound human.

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Bees, it turns out, love caffeine just as much as humans.
bees, caffeine, study, humans
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2015-03-16
Friday, 16 Oct 2015 08:03 AM
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