After a long day buzzing between flowers, even the most industrious worker bee could use a little help remembering which ones she wants to return to the
next day. Some plants have a trick to ensure they end up at the top of the list: caffeinated nectar. A team of researchers bombarded honey bees with floral
smells paired with sugary rewards, some of which contained the same levels of caffeine found in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers
Three times as many bees remembered the odors associated with caffeine after 24 hours, when compared with the scents associated with sugar alone, the team reports online today in Science. When the researchers applied the stimulant
directly to honey bee brains, it had a positive effect on the neurons associated with the formation of long term memories. Now, they want to see if bees go
out of their way to feed on caffeinated nectar, perhaps even ignoring predators to do so—behavior that, if observed, could shed light on the
neurological processes behind addiction.