Honey bees can get drunk, just like humans

Illustration for article titled Honey bees can get drunk, just like humans

Alcohol consumption might seem like a particularly human trait, but animals can get drunk too... as long as researchers supply the booze. It turns out bees are the perfect little drunkards, which provides a great way to study alcohol abuse.


The reliably awesome NCBI ROFL has the story:

In this study, the effects of ethanol on honey bee social communication and behavior within the hive were studied to further investigate the usefulness of honey bees as an ethanol-abuse model. Control (1.5 M sucrose) and experimental (1.5 M sucrose, 2.5% w/v ethanol) solutions were directly administered to individual forager bees via proboscis contact with glass capillary tubes. The duration, frequency, and proportion of time spent performing social and nonsocial behaviors were the dependent variables of interest.


Man, I've got to admit - I could really go for a 2.5% ethanol solution in a glass capillary tube right about now. But, as always, duty calls. So what did a little ethanol do to the bees?

No differences in the relative frequency or proportion of time spent performing the target behaviors were observed. However, ethanol consumption significantly decreased bouts of walking, resting, and the duration of trophallactic (i.e., food-exchange) encounters. The results of this study suggest that a low dose of ethanol is sufficient to disrupt both social and nonsocial behaviors in honey bees. In view of these results, future behavioral-genetic investigations of honey bee social behavior are encouraged."

I hate to stand in the way of science, but "encouraging" the disruption of bee society? Sorry folks, I think I'm going to have to come out in favor of bee prohibition. If nothing else, it might produce some tiny bee bootleggers, which seems even more interesting than whether bees can get drunk.



Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Anekanta - spoon denier

Oh man. My Aunt has a pear tree in her back yard. I remember one summer we went to visit, and a number of pears had fallen to the ground and begun to rot.

But wasps & bees loved the sweet fruit, so they were always buzzing around. The funny part was watching them eat the semi-rotten (and presumably fermenting) fruit from the ground, and then flying around in little drunken circles.