Study: Bees on a caffeine buzz have better memories

Bees can sense a flower's electrical charge, which tells them if the flower's worth visiting.

Humans aren't the only living creature that enjoys a daily dose of caffeine. Funnily enough, bees like their buzz too.

The flying insect gets the drug when they drink nectar containing caffeine, and researchers have proven that the naturally occurring upper improves the bee's memory and could help the plant recruit more bees to spread its pollen.

Scientists found that in tests, the bees feeding on a sugar solution containing caffeine were three times more likely to remember a flower's scent than those who just fed on sugar. In nature, researchers found that the nectar of Citrus and Coffea species often contained low doses of caffeine.

"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," study leader Dr. Geraldine Wright said in a statement.

"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 researchers found that the Bee's long term memory was greatly improved, and suggested that this can draw similarities in how brain mechanisms work across the animal kingdom.

"Although human and honeybee brains obviously have lots of differences, when you look at the level of cells, proteins and genes, human and bee brains function very similarly," said Dr Julie Mustard, a contributor to the study from Arizona State University. "Thus, we can use the honeybee to investigate how caffeine affects our own brains and behaviors."