Plants Use Caffeine to Lure Bees, Scientists Find

New York Times  By James Gorman  3/7/13

Nectar That Gives Bees a Buzz Lures Them Back for More
 

Nothing kicks the brain into gear like a jolt of caffeine. For bees, that is.

And they don’t need to stand in line for a triple soy latte. A new study shows that the naturally caffeine-laced nectar of some plants enhances the learning process for bees, so that they are more likely to return to those flowers.

“The plant is using this as a drug to change a pollinator’s behavior for its own benefit,” said Geraldine Wright, a honeybee brain specialist at Newcastle University in England, who, with her colleagues, reported those findings in Science on Thursday.

The research, other scientists said, not only casts a new light on the ancient evolutionary interaction between plants and pollinators, but...

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