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When Choosing Flowers, Bees Go For Their Nicotine Fix

Bees might get hooked on flowers the same way humans get hooked on tobacco — through nicotine.

Scientists at Queen Mary University of London had a two-part experiment to test if nicotine played a role in bee's foraging efforts. The researchers built a garden with two types of artificial flowers.

SEE MORE: Bumblebees Are Better Problem Solvers Than We Thought

In the first part of the experiment, scientists laced blue flowers with a plain sugar solution and purple flowers with a nicotine sugar solution, which is sometimes found in the wild. The bees were more likely to flock to the nicotine-infused purple flowers.

In the second part of the experiment, scientists switched the solutions, so the nicotine was in the blue flowers. But the bees still preferred the purple flowers because they associated them with a reward.

The authors think flowers might use addictive chemicals besides nicotine to lure the most pollinators.


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