Apparently humans and honeybees share something in common when it comes to caffeine. Dr. Geraldine Wright (Newcastle University, England) discovered that bees are more likely to return to flowers that produce nectar containing caffeine. Their data suggest caffeine improves memory in bees. Caffeine is present in higher concentrations in the leaves and other tissues of the plant where it provides the added benefit of warding off predators.
According to a quote from The New York Times by Dr. Robert a Raguso at Cornell University, “It makes the reader think twice about where natural products that have economic importance to humans actually came from before we ‘discovered’ and co-opted their biology.”
Dr. Wright is studying the honeybees as models for drug abuse in humans.
It is fascinating that the neurochemistry of caffeine is so similar between humans and insects. Starbucks has the same effect on me…keeps me coming back for more.
Wright GA, Baker DD, Palmer MJ, Stabler D, Mustard JA, Power EF, Borland AM, Stevenson PC. Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator’s memory of reward. Science. 339: 1202-1204. DOI: 10.1126/science.
The New York Times