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Caffeine’s buzz improves memory in honey bees

Scientists from Arizona State University and the United Kingdom have made an interesting discovery  ̶  honeybees that feed on caffeine have improved memory.

In National Public Radio’s Science Friday program with Ira Flatow titled “Getting the Springtime Buzz on Bees,” Julie Mustard, assistant research professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences, was part of a panel of experts that discussed the peculiar interactions of honeybees and the plants they pollinate.

In a recent study, researchers found that bees fed caffeine in a sugar solution were three times more likely to remember the scent of a flower. They report that caffeine helps bees remember the location of caffeine bearing flowers for up to three days, which improves pollination.

Researchers were surprised to discover that caffeine, a bitter compound, actually occurs naturally in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers. The effects of caffeine on the honeybee brain may lead to insights into how caffeine acts in the human brain at the molecular level.

The research has also been featured in the following publications:

Discovery.com: The Buzz: Bees Get a Boost From Caffeine

CBS News: Study: Bees on a caffeine buzz have better memories

Science Daily: Bees Get a Buzz from Flower Nectar Containing Caffeine