(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Looks like humans and cubicles aren't the only fans of a good, hot steaming cup of joe. A new study out of the journal Science shows that our hive-minded colleagues, bees, dig caffeine as well.
The study, titled "Caffeine in Floral Nectar Enhances a Pollinator's Memory of Reward," found out that bees tend to remember flowers with caffeine compounds in their nectar better than flowers without. Why? For the same reason anything biologically alive does anything - to reproduce.
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"Plant defense compounds occur in floral nectar, but their ecological role is not well understood. We provide evidence that plant compounds pharmacologically alter pollinator behavior by enhancing their memory of reward. Honeybees rewarded with caffeine, which occurs naturally in nectar of Coffea and Citrus species, were three times as likely to remember a learned floral scent as were honeybees rewarded with sucrose alone," reads the study abstract.
One of the alluring aspects of the study is that the plants produce caffeine in order to psychoactively hook the bees, who get a rush and then come back seeking more. This, naturally, leads to there being a greater chance of that flower spreading its seed - a rather Darwinian phenomenon. Bees, on the other side of the coin, seem like they could frankly use a cup of coffee. Working all day is hard, especially when it's said that bees fly the equivalent of twice the circumference of the world in order to produce one pound of honey.
It's hard not to see the similarities between their behaviors and ours. Everybody seeks their kicks and thrills, and a nice "psychoactivation" is just the break a laborer needs from the daily grind. At least, that's what most of us tell ourselves to get through the day.
You can read the full study published in the journal Science, or watch this video on what happens to bees when they don't get their morning caffeine fix:
**Disclaimer: The video above is by no means scientific in any respect, and hails from the classic Nicolas Cage flick, The Wicker Man.