Bees also like sweet things….
Bees love shooo – gar
Just like humans, bees are programmed to seek out sweet things, to charge up their batteries for day-to-day living.
The bee crisis
Day-to-day living is not preceeding smoothly in many bee hives around the world. The official term for the problem is “colony collapse disorder”. Scientists are struggling to understand exactly why the bees are in crisis.
Theories abound…….. bugs, chemicals and poor nutrition, have all been implicated in this downfall of bee society.
Researchers from UC San Diego believe bee health may be on the decline, because the bees have developed a really sweet tooth, as a result of living in a chemical world. And just like their human counterparts, juicing up on sugary nectar, is a recipe for disaster.
Bees in a chemical world
Bees are classed as “good” insects, they don’t eat plants and help many plants to reproduce. But there are lots of “bad” insects, that eat plants.
Farmers want bees around, but they want to keep the leaf munching bugs away, so they engage in “chemical” warfare. The chemicals that are routinely applied by farmers and gardeners, have been designed to not hurt the bees directly i.e. the chemicals do not kill the bees.
But it seems the neonicotinoids are able to shape the foraging behaviour of the bees – instead of opting for “normal” nectar, the bees want “super sweet” options on their menu.
Not sweet enough
The UC San Diego team discovered that honey bees exposed to low concentrations of a specific neonicotinoid, called imidacloprid, became really hungry for nice things.
The bees became exceedingly fussy when offered sugarwater. Imidacloprid bees were only willing to feed on high concentrations of sugar, refusing low sugar concentrations, considering them to not be rewarding enough to bother with.
The feeling of it not being worth the reward, extended beyond the individual bee, because bee society depends on scouting bees, locating “the goodies” and then sharing the info.
Bees communicate via complex waggle dances, which point nest mates in the direction of potential food sources.
Since the bees felt the food was bland and unappealing, they failed to rouse the troupes – the number of waggle dances performed by bees exposed to imidacloprid dropped between four and ten-fold.
Colony ends up short on fuel
If the bees are being extremely picky about what they will or won’t eat, the bee colony overall can start to run short of supplies.
The day-to-day things start to slip
- the baby bees don’t get enough food to grow into big, strong, healthy worker bees,
- the Queen Bee has to curtail her egg laying activities and
- the ability to fight off infections, invaders and the likes is compromised.
Colony collapsing disorder.
Bee troubles parallel human troubles ?
Maybe. The more carbohydrates you eat/drink, the more carbs you want, leaving us hungry for “nice” things. Insulin spoon
But that hungry for “nice” things leaves us struggling to use fat as a fuel source, so we end up with a cupboard full of fat which we can’t access. Just like the bees we end up short on energy despite living in abundance.
To tame the sweet tooth – start by cutting those carbs.A nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist affects honey bee sucrose responsiveness and decreases waggle dancing. Journal of Experimental Biology (2012) 215 (12): 2022. D. M. Eiri, J. C. Nieh.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those sugar cravings ?
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