Bee Caffeinated

That first heady sip of coffee–yess!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

I can’t get my day started without my cup of joe! Do other creatures get a boost from a caffeine buzz?

Enter Sarah Arnold from the University of Greenwich and team! They wanted to see if caffeine helps bumblebees pollinate. 

They divided worker bees into three groups and gave them all sugar water. One group’s beverage had caffeine. Another got caffeinated water with a floral odor. 

Then all the bees flew to eight robotic flowers. Half the flowers had the familiar floral scent, the others had a distracting smell. The scientists thought caffeine might help bees remember the floral aroma and pollinate those flowers! 

Results? Those primed with caffeine AND odor visited the floral-scented blooms more than other bees. Caffeinated bees were also quicker at pollinating the flowers. 

The researchers think a little caffeine buzz helps bees briefly memorize WHICH flowers to pollinate. 

Just BEE sure to get the order straight! Black…with sugar water. Or was that honey…?

Reference: Arnold, S. E. J., Dudenhöffer, J.-H., Fountain, M. T., James, K. L., Hall, D. R., Farman, D. I., Wäckers, F. L., & Stevenson, P. C. (2021). Bumble bees show an induced preference for flowers when primed with caffeinated nectar and a target floral odor. Current Biology, 0(0).