How much cocaine can a honey bee take?

By Seriously Science | June 14, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/Nesster

What happens when you give cocaine to honey bees? Surprisingly, these aren’t the first researchers to address this question. However, to date, no one has tested the bees’ tolerance for the drug. Enter this study, which sought to determine whether bees, like humans, demonstrate an increased tolerance to high doses of cocaine after being exposed to lower doses. (Spoiler alert: they do). We’re left with just one question: what’s the honey like?

 Cocaine Tolerance in Honey Bees

“Increasingly invertebrates are being used to investigate the molecular and cellular effects of drugs of abuse to explore basic mechanisms of addiction. However, in mammals the principle factors contributing to addiction are long-term adaptive responses to repeated drug use. Here we examined whether adaptive responses to cocaine are also seen in invertebrates using the honey bee model system. Repeated topical treatment with a low dose of cocaine rendered bees resistant to the deleterious motor effects of a higher cocaine dose, indicating the development of physiological tolerance to cocaine in bees. Cocaine inhibits biogenic amine reuptake transporters, but neither acute nor repeated cocaine treatments caused measurable changes in levels of biogenic amines measured in whole bee brains. Our data show clear short and long-term behavioural responses of bees to cocaine administration, but caution that, despite the small size of the bee brain, measures of biogenic amines conducted at the whole-brain level may not reveal neurochemical effects of the drug.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
  • zbecktx

    Must have given him quite a “buzz”. Sorry.

  • LJ Owen

    What kind of person deliberately subjects living beings to pain and suffering just to see what happens? Your mother must be so proud.

    • d0x360

      I fail to see how getting them high causes them pain. Your mother must be so proud.

      • Matt

        How about we give you cocaine then moron and see how you react… We’ll just keep upping the dose and see how long it takes you to OD…. It is all for science don’t worry!

        • d0x360

          That’s not what they were doing. They were checking tolerance the method they used PREVENTED OD. Research like this can save human lives maybe yours someday.

          • James Stewart

            But only if you’re addicted to cocaine and empty soda cans.

        • nillort

          Could I get some free coke too?

    • ayyyyyyy

      bees have deliberately caused me pain

  • Mark Driscoll

    LOL LJ Owen. No offence. But its in the name of sceince. And..they are also, and don’t go all PETA on me here, bees.

  • chriswiseowl

    Please stop doing this kind of stuff to honey bees. Not to, “get all PETA”, but why don’t you scientists just experiment on one of your offspring or something? Bees are, like, important.

    • Marc Brevoort

      When you say bees are important, yet you want scientists to stop doing this sort of experiments on them, you may be contradicting yourself without realising it. This sort of research is likely done on bees, exactly *because* they are important. The way it works is something like this…

      – State a hypothesis.

      For example “certain substances are harmful to bees because it messes with their tiny brains”

      – Do the theoretical work to predict what this implies.

      For example “Yes, but if bee brain chemistry differs significantly from [certain other species] brain chemistry, that doesn’t fly. If bee brain chemistry however is similar, bee brains should be sensitive to cocaine”

      – Verify the implications by experiment.

      If the evidence does not support the hypothesis, the hypothesis is rejected.

      Since bees are vitally important and dying by the millions, it makes sense to gain an understanding of what’s killing them.
      By taking care of the bees, we take care of ourselves.

      Hope this answers your question.

  • nikhil shrivastva

    this is not good!!

  • Amanda Penguin

    This is so stupid! No duh they are going to have a tolerance, everyone does but at different levels, you don’t need to test it! If its been done before then why suddenly would it change? I can understand if it is being done for scientific advancement but in no way does it say they are killing bees for the benefit of medicine! Your killing bees for no reason!


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