Caffeine does not influence stingless bees

phys.org | 2/23/2017 | Staff
ajoy26 (Posted by) Level 3
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The western honey bee (Apis mellifera) that has a sting for use in defense is common in Western Europe. Stingless bees, on the other hand, are mainly at home in the tropics and subtropics. They are a very social group and live in colonies. They construct hives where they store honey for their colony. While the western honey bee reacts to the presence of caffeine in nectar and pollen and becomes more active in terms of foraging the corresponding food source, it would seem that stingless bees find caffeine to be less appealing. "We looked at stingless bees in Brazil but found there was no effect when we offered them caffeinated feeds," said Dr. Christoph Grüter of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). "In the context of our study, the behavior of the insects was not influenced by the presence of caffeine." Some plants add caffeine or other secondary metabolites to their nectar with the aim of manipulating the activity of pollinators. The western or European honey bee and the bumblebee are indeed susceptible to this form of deception. They increase their foraging of the resource in question, thus benefiting the plant through enhanced pollination but, at the same time, the food materials the insects collect can be of poor quality, resulting in potential harm to themselves and their colony.

Caffeine is a compound present in various plant species, including coffee, tea, and citrus fruits. It is known to stimulate the central nervous system—in humans as well as in honey bees. When honey bees encounter caffeine, their motivation to increase their collecting behavior is reinforced. As a result, they take up more nectar, their learning capacity is improved, they tend to visit blooms that offer caffeine more frequently, and increasingly direct other bees to the food source in question. Over the long...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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