How Plants Trick BEES! Just like people these bees are drawn to caffeine!
Thankfully, one such study just published this month in the journal Current Biology is alll about caffeinated honeybees. For starters up to about 55% of plants produce caffeine to attract bees because as the study says, our “recent laboratory study showed that caffeine may lead to efficient and effective foraging by aiding honeybee memory of a learned olfactory association, suggesting that caffeine may enhance bee reward perception.In pollination, plants provide food reward to pollinators who in turn enhance plant reproduction by transferring pollen…” Mother nature at it’s best!
- •Caffeinated forage causes honeybees to overestimate forage quality
- •Caffeine leads to individual- and colony-level effects in foraging and recruitment
- •A model demonstrates how food stores could decrease from caffeine-enhanced foraging
- •Caffeine in nectar may ultimately benefit the plant, not the pollinator
A team of biologists from the Univesity of Sussex set up two feeding stations. One Station contained a sugar solution; while the second station has a special ingredient added – – caffeine – in a dose that would naturally occur in nectar. Over the next three-hour period, the researchers found that the honeybees preferred the caffeinated nectar and returned for a refill much more frequently. The really interesting part however is that the bees using their “waggle dances” directed other bees to the preferred caffeinated nectar! But what interested scientists is that the caffeinated nectar which is not nutritionally better than the plain nectar – as Dr. Couvillon said, caffeine “causes the bee to overestimate the quality of the resource.”
“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,” Roger Schürch, a biologist at the University of Sussex and one of the study’s co-authors, said in a statement. “The duped pollinators forage and recruit accordingly.”
VIA: Current Biology: Caffeinated Forage Tricks Honeybees into Increasing Foraging and Recruitment Behaviors