Every so often, the pun gods smile down upon us mortals, and they deliver a set of circumstances so perfect, so tailor-made for cheesy wordplay, that to not take advantage would be like slapping the universe in the face. Like, for example, a study about caffeinated honeybees.
Thankfully, one such study was published today in the journal Current Biology. So here it is: Talk about your caffeine buzz, am I right?
Now that that’s out of the way, on to the science.
For the study, a team of biologists from the Univesity of Sussex set up two feeders containing a sugar solution, adding caffeine to one of the feeders in a concentration that would naturally occur in nectar. They then trained groups of honeybees from three different hives to collect the solution from one of the two feeders as they would nectar from a plant. Observing the bees over a three-hour period, the researchers found that they returned much more frequently to the solution with caffeine than the one without.
But the bees weren’t just caffeine fans; they were caffeine evangelists. During the same time period, the study authors monitored the bees’ “waggle dances,” the movements that bees use to direct one another to a food source, and also something that sounds like a fitting kind of dance for the overcaffeinated. Bees will modify their moves based on how much sugar a food source contains: The sweeter the nectar, the more frequently they’ll waggle.