?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Today's Wikipedia find: bees and booze

« previous entry | next entry »
Sep. 21st, 2008 | 01:32 pm

While trying to find the name of a book that I read a review of some awfully long time ago, about the tendency of vertebrates to seek out intoxicating chemicals no matter what species, I came across an indication that it's not just vertebrates.
The effects of alcohol on bees are sufficiently similar to the effects of alcohol on humans that honey bees have been used as models of human ethanol intoxication.[3] However, the metabolism of bees and humans is sufficiently different that bees can safely collect nectars from plants that contain compounds toxic to humans. The honey produced by bees from these toxic nectars can be poisonous if consumed by humans. Many humans have eaten toxic honey and become quite ill as a result...

...When bees become intoxicated from ethanol consumption or poisoned with other chemicals, their balance is affected, and they are wobbly when they walk. Charles Abramson's group at Oklahoma State University has put inebriated bees on running wheels, where they exhibit locomotion difficulties. They also put honey bees in shuttle-boxes that used a stimulus to encourage the bees to move, and found that they were less mobile as they became more intoxicated.[5][6]

A temulent bee is more likely to stick out its tongue, or proboscis. Inebriated bees spend less time flying. If a bee is sufficiently intoxicated, it will just lie on its back and wiggle its legs. Inebriated bees typically have many more flying accidents as well. Some bees that consume ethanol become too inebriated to find their way back to the hive, and will die as a result.[5] Bozic et al (2006) found that alcohol consumption by honeybees disrupts foraging and social behaviors, and has some similar effects to poisoning with insecticides.[7] Some bees become more aggressive after consuming alcohol.[8]

Some honey bees like to consume fermented nectars containing ethanol more than others, and become notorious chronic inebriates around the hives. Bee colonies station guard bees outside the hives, and these will keep the inebriated bees from entering the hive and being disruptive; intoxicated bees are forced to stay out of the hive until they sober up.[9] If a bee is a repeat offender and returns in an inebriated state to the hive too often, the "bee bouncers" will chew the offending bee's legs off.[5]
I hope this "chewing drunks' legs off" thing doesn't catch on. Imagine the mess on a Friday night.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {5}

PhillyKat

(no subject)

from: phillykat
date: Sep. 21st, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Link

Is this what has happened to the honey bees? They ate each other? They were too drunk to make it back to the hive and died? Due to a hangover they lost their bearings and flew out over the ocean and didn't have enough fuel to get back and wound up in the Bermuda Triangle?

Reply | Thread

The Princess of Id

(no subject)

from: danaseilhan
date: Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
Link

I was wondering the same thing. Someone someplace said it was due to solar flare activity but that subsided a few years ago. Another hypothesis is that cell phone towers are confusing them, but who knows?

Reply | Parent | Thread

PhillyKat

(no subject)

from: phillykat
date: Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Link

I never heard about the cell phone towers. That's a pretty good theory.

Reply | Parent | Thread

fridgemagnet

(no subject)

from: fridgemagnet
date: Sep. 22nd, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
Link

"They got pissed and had their legs chewed off" is certainly a lot more convincing than some explanations out there.

Though I suppose if you are a legless, legless bee, you could still fly. Maybe. Just not land very well.

Reply | Parent | Thread

PhillyKat

(no subject)

from: phillykat
date: Sep. 22nd, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
Link

Hence why they got confused and wound up in the triangle. Or maybe it's not the dolphins but the bees that are superior intellects from another planet. They were trying to warn us of our impending doom, but did we listen, noooo. In their high pitched bumble bee way they sang So Long and Thanks for the Flowers (and the occasional wee nip).

Reply | Parent | Thread