News Stories

Bees Have Bad Habits Too

Here's something new: Smoking and drinking seem to go together and bees think so too!

We've learned that bees like a variety of plants (which is the way WE should eat too). It turns out that they also share some of our bad habits: they prefer nectar with small amounts of nicotine and caffeine over nectar that does not contain these substances. Researcher Ido Izhaki says, "This could be an evolutionary development intended, as in humans, to make the bee addicted." Flower nectar is made up primarily of sugars, which provide energy for the potential pollinators. But the floral nectar of some plant species also includes small quantities of substances known to be toxic, such as caffeine and nicotine. Researchers wanted to find out whether these substances are intended to "entice" the bees.

Nicotine is found naturally in floral nectar primarily in various types of tobacco tree. Caffeine is found mostly in citrus flowers. In order to examine whether bees prefer the nectar containing caffeine and nicotine, the researchers offered artificial nectar that comprised various natural sugar levels and various levels of caffeine and nicotine, alongside "clean" nectar that comprised sugar alone. The caffeine and nicotine concentrations ranged from the natural levels in floral nectar up to much higher concentrations than found in nature.Their results show that bees clearly prefer nectar containing nicotine and caffeine over the "clean" nectar.

There are bad habits and good habits for humans, birds and bees, and one of the BEST habits you can form is joining our wonderful Wednesday chats, just for subscribers. It's a great chance to talk about your experiences and meet new friends who share your interests.

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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