Bees get a natural buzz from caffeine in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers, researchers have discovered.
What's more, the caffeine improves honeybee memory, helping the pollinators to remember a flower's scent, and probably its location too, according to the study, published in Science.
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"Remembering floral traits is difficult for bees to perform at a fast pace as they fly from flower to flower and we have found that caffeine helps the bee remember where the flowers are," explained study leader Geraldine Wright of Newcastle University.
"In turn, bees that have fed on caffeine-laced nectar are laden with coffee pollen and these bees search for other coffee plants to find more nectar, leading to better pollination. So, caffeine in nectar is likely to improve the bee's foraging prowess while providing the plant with a more faithful pollinator."
The effect of caffeine on the bees' long-term memory was profound, with three times as many bees remembering a flower's scent 24 hours later and twice as many bees remembering the scent after three days.