A Floral Buzz

Image: NakedZealot
Image: NakedZealot

It seems the way to make yourself memorable to a bee is to give it a little something that will jazz its buzz and keep it coming back for more . There was the recent study on flowers that offer a mild electrical jolt, and now there’s evidence that some flowers are able offer a mild dose of caffeine to maintain pollinator loyalty. Too much caffeine can be toxic – as any college student knows – but just the right amount can stimulate without poisoning the drinker. As it turns out, bee brains may share certain preferences with human brains when it comes to favorite stimulants.

Smart barista flowers serve up just the right amount to ensure they, rather than their decaf competition, will get better pollination. Bees can taste the difference, and the flower with the best caffeine is the flower they will remember.

Science articleCaffeine in Floral Nectar Enhances a Pollinator’s Memory of Reward (2013), by G. Wright, D. Baker, M. Palmer, D. Stabler, J. Mustard, E. Power, A. Borland, P. Stevenson

Scientific American blog post: The Scicurious Brain – Plants give bees a caffeine buzz 

New York Times article: Nectar that gives bees a buzz lures them back for more, J. Gorman