If you thought humans are the only ones that can’t start their activity without a cup of coffee, you might have been wrong. Bees also seem to be dependent on caffeine, study reveals.
The difference between the two types of consumers is that while caffeine gives people a boost in their activities, bees will become lazy. They will struggle to find food and will hardly transmit the food’s location for other bees. Apart from that, caffeine makes them wrongly judge the quality of the food they find. In this way, the colony becomes less productive.
The reason why plants use caffeine is that its bitterness hinders animals from eating them. Others, on the other hand, seem to prefer caffeine, adding a little bitterness to their nectar.
In 2013, Geraldine Wright tried to find a reason why bees add a small quantity of bitterness to a liquid that is supposed to entice pollinators and discovered that caffeine improves bees’ memory. While making the research, Wright gave bees big amounts of caffeine and was able to observe that a bee’s memory increased up to three times. More precisely, a bee was more capable of remembering the smell of a flower.
So, the strategy behind plants giving pollinators caffeine is that it helps them learn the connection between their different smell and the nectar they provide.
In order to discover if bees take benefits from caffeine consumption, Margaret Couvillon trained some several bees and was able to observe that bees would get used to the feeder that provides them with caffeine. Moreover, they would stick to that particular source, leaving others plants without pollinators.
Although caffeine improves their memory, it makes a bad difference between plants containing caffeine and plants that don’t contain this element, although they are able to provide the same quantity of energy.
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