Bees Love Caffeine, Too

Even the busiest bees need a little pick-me-up in the morning. A study by researchers at the University of Sussex finds that bees love a little caffeine, and prefer nectar that gives them a little extra buzz.

The paper, published in the journal Current Biology tested bees’ preferences for caffeinated nectar and an equal-quality but non-caffeinated alternative. As many as 55 percent of plants have low concentrations of caffeine in their nectar, and previous research has found that caffeinated nectar can increase bees’ memory of a flower’s scent.

When presented with a pair of sugary nectars in the lab, one with caffeine and one without, bees foraged for food more when they ate the caffeinated nectar, and directed their fellow bees to that food source more often. They directed other bees to the caffeinated nectar four times more than when they had eaten non-caffeinated nectar, and would return to the source of caffeine even after that feeder had run dry. After eating caffeinated nectar, they were less likely to seek out other sources of food. In short, they got sort of addicted.

Plants “may be tricking the honey bee by securing loyal and faithful foraging and recruitment behaviors, perhaps without providing the best quality forage,” University of Sussex researcher Margaret Couvillon explains. The bees get tricked into thinking the caffeinated nectar is a higher quality food source than it really is, and aren’t too interested in diversifying their nectar sources.

celebrate the bees

today on world bee day

and every day


“if we die, we’re taking you with us.”

-The Bees


credits: mental floss, shaunacy ferro, entomology today

65 responses »

  1. Here is my Mosquitoes and Bees poem, and an interesting video/song for you Beth …
    Mosquitoes and Bees

    I was asked the question, “who’s your muse”
    My mind flew into overdrive, now I’ll have to chose
    Years ago, the answer would have been, my Queen
    The lady who was always in my dreams
    Living longer than her, altered my life’s mission
    Spending time alone, enlightened my vision
    Mindful thoughts were constantly buzzing
    I’d learnt enough to know, this world’s not humming

    Nature’s lifeblood, mosquitoes, bees
    And the air we breathe, sheltered by life giving trees
    Are the persecuted convicts of corporate greed
    Leaving us, the planet’s custodians, begging on our knees
    The bees pollinating wings, have been broken
    And purifying forests, have been stolen
    It’s time, to dismount the angel’s white ponies
    And ask my muse Melpomene, please save earth’s colonies

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Dunkin Donuts has pulled the same trick on me – “by somehow securing loyal and faithful foraging and recruitment behaviors”. now I’m not too interested in diversifying my coffee sources.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Buzzed – Site Title

  4. I was sitting out on my deck the other day, and a bee kept flying around my cup. I thought it was after the sugar, but maybe it wanted a real jolt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I Am Minding my BEES….💖 🐝 💖 Einstein said a long time ago. If we don’t look after our bees and they die humans will live another 4 years. I am so worried. I forgot what he said and regret it. Thank you for your article. Very much appreciated. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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