Feeds

Bees on cocaine: The facts

Mr Snowman wants some honey, baby

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

News has emerged of the latest threat to nature: drug-addled bees, hopped up on crack by crazed scientists. Some bee experts believe that cocaine could have "as devastating an effect on honey bee society as it does on human society".

The scientists in question are Andrew Barron of Macquarie University in Australia and Gene Robinson of the University of Illinois, and some fellow bee and narcotics experts. The men, for reasons that seemed good to them at the time, got some bees hooked on cocaine and then turned them out to find some sugar.

According to the boffins, cocaine turns good bees - productive members of the hive - into untrustworthy scumbags. The cocaine-addled insects would routinely exaggerate the quality of sugar or pollen they had found, lying to their fellow hive members through the medium of "waggle dancing", the standard method of describing one's work among bees.

But the bees' dance remained accurate in terms of where the food was, according to Robinson. The insect drug-slaves maintained a certain level of dignity.

"It's not like they're gyrating wildly on the dance floor out of control," he said. "This is a patterned response. It gives distance information, location information. That information is intact."

It also seems that honey bees experience withdrawal symptoms much as humans do when Mr Snowman suddenly cuts off his supply of treats. Bees who had their cocaine taken away hit the skids rapidly, losing even the ability to tell lemon and vanilla apart. (This is a sign of a bee who has really lost it, apparently.)

The scientists believe that their work indicates the presence of a reward system in the bee brain, something never shown so far. They also think that more bee study will have relevance to the problems of human addiction.

Full details will be published on Boxing Day in the Journal of Experimental Biology (Reference: Effects of cocaine on honey bee dance behaviour. J Exp Biol 212, 163-168). ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?