bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Saturday, October 23, 2004

As pissed as a bee

Honeybees, the most studied insect in the world, are now helping researchers to understand the effects of alcohol on humans. Apparently, alcohol affects bees and humans in similar ways.

First the Ohio State University researchers treat the bees to a night out on the apiary:
Honey bees were secured into a small harness made from a piece of drinking straw. The researchers then fed bees solutions of sucrose and ethanol, with several ethanol concentrations ranging from 10 to 100 percent.
Then they observe their behaviour for about 40 minutes:
The bees that had consumed the highest concentrations of ethanol - 50, 75 and 100 percent - spent a majority of the observation period on their backs, unable to stand... They also spent almost no time grooming or flying.

“These bees had lost postural control,” Julie Mustard said. “They couldn't coordinate their legs well enough to flip themselves back over again.”
Next they want to see if tanked-up bees get aggressive ...

So now you know what to say if you are accused of being drunk: “Sorry, I've just lost postural control.”


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