In honor of #pollinatorweek I learned some very interesting things about bees…. They love caffeine as much as people do! No they don’t have little Starbucks, and they sadly can’t enjoy a delicious vanilla latte, but scientists have discovered that bees do manage to get their caffeine fix in other ways. According to the researchers, up to 55% of flowering plants contain caffeine in their nectar, and not only do the bees seem to enjoy the caffeine boost, it also improves their memory and ability to learn (just like in people). When tested in the lab, bees visited nectar feeders that contained caffeine more times than ones that didn’t, continued visiting the feeder several days after it was emptied, and were more likely to perform a waggle dance. (A waggle dance is when bees shake their abdomens to communicate with the hive about nectar sources.) However, while the bees may enjoy their buzz, nectar containing caffeine is not nutritionally better than regular nectar, which means that the bees may overvalue caffeine-producing flowers and miss out on potentially more valuable food sources.
Not only is it fascinating to learn that humans and bees share a common love of caffeine, it is also interesting to learn more about the complex relationship between pollinators and flowering plants. Also, if you love honey bees (and honey) as much as I do, take a moment to learn a bit about how you can protect them and other pollinators by visiting this link.
Want to learn more? Visit http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/19/science/the-caffeinated-lives-of-bees.html?_r=0
June 24, 2016