Modern supermarkets offer rainbow cornucopias of fruits and vegetables. Peppers, avocados, strawberries, cucumbers-they are all cultivated by bees. However, Sarah Arnold, an ecologist at the University of Greenwich, said that “there are not enough pollinators in nature” to take care of our global crop load.As a result, farmers release thousands of commercially raised bees into their fields, where these bees diligently buzz and pollinate Worth billions of dollars The annual crops. When bees dive into flowers looking for food, their hairy little bodies pick up powdery pollen, and when they visit the next flower, the next flower, and the next flower, the pollen will spread.
However, commercial bees sometimes wander from farmland to nearby wildflowers for food. Now, scientists have discovered that—as for many humans—a small amount of caffeine can help bees continue their tasks and do their jobs more efficiently. Arnold and her colleagues showed that feeding bumblebees with caffeine while exposing them to the scent of the target flower encourages them to look for that scent when they leave the nest.Caffeinated bees Visit the scented flowers of the target Faster and more frequently than those who have no additional promotion. The research team reported on Wednesday that the results of the study can be applied to industrialized agriculture to train bees to get closer to the right track. Contemporary biology.
University of Virginia ecologist Jessamyn Manson (Jessamyn Manson), who was not involved in the new study, said that people already know that pollinators use the smell in the nest to learn which flowers to visit. Arnold pointed out that previous research has shown that bees like to visit artificial flowers that produce caffeine-but how caffeine itself affects bee behavior is unclear. Other studies have shown that tethered bees will stick out their tongues to respond longer when exposed to the target odor while eating caffeine, but these bees cannot freely choose which flowers to visit.
In order to conduct a more in-depth investigation, Arnold and her team established three groups of bumblebees. One person drank caffeine-containing sugar water and the smell of strawberry flowers. The other received pure sugar water and smell, and the other received only pure sugar water. None of these bees have encountered any type of floral or floral scent before. Each group is released from the hive and enters a laboratory stage dotted with robotic flowers. Some of them emit the same strawberry scent, while others emit a completely different “disturbing” floral scent. All fake flowers contain sugar water (without caffeine) for bees to lick when choosing.
Caffeine-containing bees showed a clear preference for artificial strawberry flowers, and 70.4 bees immediately visited the target flowers. Only 60% of the caffeine-free but smell-smelling subjects first went straight to the plastic strawberry, while the bees with neither caffeine nor smell visited the strawberry flower less than half of the time, which is an expectation As a result, because they never “learned” which plants to try first.
Arnold said that the bees exposed to caffeine and odor form a “super strong association” between the two, which suggests that bees might think: “When I had this odor in the past, I thought it was really good. [caffeinated] Sugar, I remember it clearly. With each successive flower visit, the speed of these bees also increased faster than the speed of decaffeinated bees-which suggests that caffeine may additionally enhance their motor skills.
Although this positive connection was strong, it eventually disappeared: after visiting dozens of flowers, caffeinated bees also began to study interfering flowers, and Arnold pointed out that the laboratory setting was one reason. “Finding plastic flowers that are only a few inches apart… For bees, this is a very easy task to solve,” she said. “Sooner or later the bees will try to disturb the flowers and realize that they are equally beneficial.” But in the field of strawberry plants, the real-life “disturber” flowers will be farther away, and it may take longer for the bees to deviate from their tasks. Arnold said that in agricultural settings, caffeine can be provided along with the triggering smell of certain plants in commercial honeycombs. Farmers can place caffeinated beehives in their fields to allow bees to pollinate more effectively.
Manson said this strategy may be more applicable to British farms than to American farms. British farms tend to be small, and if they are not trained, pollinators are more likely to get lost. She added that American crops pollinated by bees are usually grown in fields that are difficult to stay away from, or in greenhouses where bees cannot escape.
Regardless of what industrial applications the new findings might lead to, Manson said, these experiments using caffeine as a stimulant are particularly illuminating. Humans are actively looking for caffeine, “I hope pollinators will do the same,” she said. “It’s delicious and great.” But because this study gave caffeine in the nest, rather than as a reward for the flowers, she said the experiment is “strong proof” of how caffeine helps bees teach what Plant pollination.