Researchers Study Sugar's Effect On Bees
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
We have news this morning. Researchers have found that people are a little like bees. Those insects share the human trait of getting a boost from sugar.
CLINT PERRY: I know I eat dark chocolates, especially with ginger or cinnamon or something. And I'm really - you know, the world is great.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Clint Perry is a researcher at Queen Mary University of London. He and a colleague wondered if sugar makes bees feel better, too.
PERRY: Insects aren't these behaviorally rigid, unintelligent machines. A bee has the brain the size of a sesame seed. But they have emotion-like states.
MONTAGNE: Emotions like optimism, which is what Perry and his team saw after giving bees a jolt of sugar water. The bees became more adventurous and recovered more quickly after being attacked.
PERRY: In the wild, bees forage on flowers for nectar. And, sometimes, crab spiders wait at these flowers and attack them. And so we developed a simulated attack in the lab. And bees that received a little droplet of sucrose before they were attacked ended up reinitiating foraging much quicker.
INSKEEP: It's as if that boost of sugar gave them more resilience. And Perry believes this is not just a sugar high.
MONTAGNE: He says the bees didn't show signs of hyperactivity after their sugar treats. Rather, they responded to a series of tests in a more confident and positive way.
PERRY: They are showing some type of optimistic-like state. Now, whether they're aware of this state is an entirely different question.
INSKEEP: That's right. The bees are happier but may not know if they are happier, which may be for the best. As the old wisdom goes, if you have to think about whether you're happy, you're not.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.