Bees Attracted to Nicotine, Caffeine

HAIFA, Israel, Feb. 11 (UPI) — Israeli scientists say they’ve discovered bees prefer nectar with small amounts of nicotine and caffeine over nectar that does not include those substances.

“This could be an evolutionary development intended, as in humans, to make the bee addicted,” said University of Haifa Professor Ido Izhaki, who led the study.

Flower nectar is primarily comprised of sugars, which provide energy for the potential pollinators, the scientists said. But they said the floral nectar of some plant species also includes small quantities of caffeine and nicotine. The study sought to determine whether those substances are intended to “entice” the bees or whether they are byproducts that are not necessarily linked to any such objective.

The researchers said their results showed bees clearly prefer nectar containing small amounts of nicotine and caffeine over “clean” nectar. Given a choice of higher levels of nicotine versus “clean” nectar, the bees preferred the latter.

The scientists emphasized their results proved a preference, not addiction, and they are currently examining whether bees do indeed become addicted to nicotine and caffeine.

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