Drunken Bees

Have you ever seen children hyped up on sugar?  Wow, talk about super-charged bundles of energy. The sugar goes straight to their little active muscles and they can run around like crazy for hours. Then they crash.  Nap time!! 🙂

I’m beginning to wonder if sugar, or in this case flower nectar, has the same effect on bees?

There are some beautiful Echinacea, Purple Coneflowers, growing in my front yard this time of year. It’s another one of those flowers bought years ago that somehow thrived in the hot dry climate. There are usually at least five bees at any one time on the flowers.

The bees buzz around quickly collecting nectar or pollen, and then something really curious happens – all of them end up slowing down, I mean REALLY slowing down!  Like not moving, slowing down. I think they are either taking a nap, or completely drunk!

Here is one little bee that can’t even hold himself up on the flower anymore!

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I coaxed him onto a piece of a leaf that was laying around and then I placed the bee on the ground.  He lay there comatose, twitching slightly.  After about 20 seconds, he shook his head a bit, stretched and buzzed his wings.  Then he flew up and went right back to the Echinacea flower.  He collected a bit more nectar or pollen then stopped moving again. Is he getting drunk?

Researching this, I found out that bees actually DO get drunk!  Some flowers even ferment their nectar on purpose!  Here’s a cool video for you.

What do you think? Are my bees drunk on Echinacea flowers?

Tip of the Week:  I couldn’t find any research showing that Echinacea nectar or pollen has this effect on bees. Though there are several chemical components that have been identified in this flower, none have any inebriation effects. Echinacea roots, stems and flowers have been used in traditional medicine to help alleviate colds, arthritis, headaches, pains, and even snakebites. In fact, honey producers purposely grow this flower to make Echinacea Honey, which is believed by some people to contain the same properties of the Echinacea plant that help ward off colds and flu symptoms.

Bee nice to bees 😀