Caffeine often gets a bad rap, but when it comes to bees scientists say it enhances memory and keeps them coming back to the same plants, reports the New York Times on March 7. According to Geraldine Wright, a specialist in honeybee brains, some plants use caffeine in their nectar as a drug to change the behavior of bees.
Some coffee and citrus plants have concentrations of caffeine in their nectar that approximates weak coffee.
To test how the caffeine in nectar influenced the behavior of bees, Wright offered bees either sugar water or nectar laced with small amounts of caffeine as a reward after exposure to odors. Surprisingly, bees remembered the smell associated with the caffeine nectar three times as often as sugar water after 24 hours. After 72 hours, the effect lessensed, but twice as many bees remember the caffeine nectar.
The Global Post reports that although caffeine appears to spark the memory of bees, it is unknown whether it has the same affect in humans.
These finding may help scientists understand how caffeine affects human memory.