Studies Show Caffeine’s Effect on Bees

( – Many adults start their commute with a stop at a nearby Dunkin’ or Starbucks for their first caffeine jolt of the day. While it’s known to perk up humans, scientists decided to test the substance on one of the more important insects in Earth’s ecosystem: honey bees.

Caffeine is a chemical that allows so many to start their workday in a more pleasant frame of mind β€” as seen on the ubiquitous mugs that warn of the dire consequences of disturbing a person before they’ve had enough coffee. It seems that the little pollinators get a kick out of it as well which helps improve their memories and the pace of their work.

Strawberry farmers spend large amounts of money to import commercial hives to their fields, but many of the bees would wander the neighboring wildflowers which are an equally appealing odor for the insects. Researchers at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom found that the bees that were fed strawberry-scented nectar infused with caffeine focused on the plant at a rate of 70%, while the control group was only about 45%-65% with wildflower scent.

They also found that the buzzing hives were able to remember the effect and were more likely to revisit their strawberry proxy over time. A paper published in Current Biology β€” a peer-reviewed journal β€” determined that “there is potential to redesign commercial colonies to enhance bees’ forage focus or even bias bees to forage on a specific crop.”

While still in the investigative stage, the potential for farmers to increase yields without adding chemical fertilizers must be considered a good thing.

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