Are Bees the Addicts of the Animal Kingdom?


Honeybees are known as the hard workers of
the animal kingdom. But sometimes they like to party. Maybe a little too hard. I’m Anna and this is Gross Science. Honeybees have to visit about two million
flowers to collect enough nectar to make just one pound of honey. They’re one of nature’s best pollinators. In fact, many plants rely heavily on honeybee
pollination for their survival, so they’ve evolved to produce particularly delicious
nectar to lure in the bees. Certain plants offer more than just nectar,
though. Some also produce low-levels of caffeine and
nicotine. The plants may have originally used these
substances to fend off unwanted predators, because nicotine and caffeine can taste pretty
bitter. But it turns out that, at certain doses, honeybees
may actually like them. In fact, a study at the University of Haifa
found that honeybees preferred collecting nectar from flowers with caffeine and nicotine,
compared to flowers without it. And years of plant evolution may have selected
for levels of caffeine and nicotine that most appeal to bees in order to ensure pollination. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean the bees
were “addicted” to caffeine or nicotine, it just means they had a clear preference. That said, these substances can affect bees’
decision-making. Researchers at the University of Sussex conducted
a different study with caffeine-laced feeders. They trained bees to collect sucrose solutions
at two separate feeders – one that was caffeinated, and one that wasn’t. The bees foraging at the caffeinated feeder
went on many more collecting trips, even though the caffeinated nectar contained exactly the
same amount of sugar as the uncaffeinated one. They also recruited more bees from the hive
to visit the caffeinated food source. Now, you’d think this would be a good thing. More trips mean more honey, right? Well, not necessarily. If bees in the wild like caffeine so much
that they’d choose caffeinated flowers with less sugar over uncaffeinated flowers with
more sugar, that could hurt the hive. The bees might actually be producing less
honey, despite the additional trips. Besides caffeine, bees will also drink alcohol. Honeybees are known to get drunk off alcoholic
tree sap or fermented nectar. Bees that feed on fermented nectar can lose
the ability to fly and remember their way back to the hive. And since bees can travel more than four miles
away to forage, this can be dangerous. They may end up getting lost, and sometimes
even die trying to find their way back to the hive. What’s interesting is that the honeybee’s
reaction to alcohol is similar to humans. A group of researchers from Ohio State University
put this to the test, by feeding ethanol to honeybees and studying their behavior. The honeybees were separated into different
groups and given different amounts of ethanol. Within the first 10 minutes, the bees were
showing signs of inebriation. Some spent most of their time chilling. Some lost postural control, unable to stand
upright, or fly. Some were so drunk, they couldn’t flip off
their backs. The higher amount of ethanol they consumed,
the drunker they got. Some scientists think that by studying drunk
bees, we might one day learn how to counteract the urge to drink in alcoholics. But while this is exciting for the future
of substance abuse research, one thing is clear. Getting wasted is never cool, whether you’re
a person or a honeybee. Ew.

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74 thoughts on “Are Bees the Addicts of the Animal Kingdom?

  1. the bees partying is why they're going extinct xD though nah, save the bees honestly they're so so important

  2. Wow, great vid. I knew bees were neat creatures, but I didn't know they were so similar to us.

    Would that mean certain honeys produced have traces of booze and caffeine?

  3. I've seen multiple sources stating that flowers/plants use caffeine in their nectar so that the bees can frequent more visits, however, they claim that the bees visit more due to the caffeine aiding in their memory of the plant's location and not due to the bees actually becoming addicted to the caffeine. Could you offer more insight on this?

  4. Thank you so much for this funny and beautiful informations πŸ˜„
    can't wait for the next video 😍

  5. Awesome video! Caffeine in flowers and bees were actually a free response question for AP Biology this year, so it's nice to find out more about the subject. You can see the question itself if you google AP central biology frq 2017.

  6. Nice! its like those honeybees in South America that collect the nectar of the Ololuiqui plant (Turbina corymbosa) and some very interesting indole alkaloids πŸ˜‰

  7. I saw u on deep look!?!!!!!
    I like her too but u r my favorite channel and u are better than ted Ed too

  8. Could have done without the DARE afterschool special editorializing at the end. Still up vote though. Cool is an opinion so can't be objectively stated as fact like that.

  9. I think the difference between bees and humans is that human addiction usually spurals out of control in the case of few or bad support systems. A human with lots of love and fufilment in their life will never get sucked into addiction in the first place, even while taking addictive supstances like alcohol or even heroine. It's sorting out their real lives that keep addicts in their rut, not the love for the rut. I think less so we need drugs to counteract addiction. We need support groups and funding to help these people eat healthy and sleep in a warm bed while they get better so they can earn their own livings and seek fufilment. Quiting drinking became easy when I moved out of my abusive situation and in with friends who love and support me. For real I just quit drinking, there were no cravings because I felt cared about.

  10. If I were a bee I would be able to drink alcohol, drug and caffeine freely without getting affected by the law πŸ€”

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