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Are bees also addicted to caffeine and nicotine?
Date:2/10/2010

e. The caffeine and nicotine concentrations ranged from the natural levels in floral nectar up to much higher concentrations than found in nature.

The results showed that bees clearly prefer nectar containing nicotine and caffeine over the "clean" nectar. The preferred nicotine concentration was 1 milligram per liter, similar to that found in nature. Given a choice of higher levels of nicotine versus "clean" nectar, the bees preferred the latter.

According to the researchers, it is difficult to determine for sure whether the addictive substances in the nectar became present in an evolutionary process in order to make pollination more efficient. It can be assumed, however, based on the results of the study, that the plants that survived natural selection are those that developed "correct" levels of these addictive substances, enabling them to attract and not repel bees, thereby giving them a significant advantage over other plants. The researchers emphasized that this study has proved a preference, not addiction, and they are currently examining whether the bees do indeed become addicted to nicotine and caffeine.


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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert

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