Something you can plant that will get a bee drunk
By Emma Young. Honeybees are avid drinkers, and this could make them ideal for research into drugs to treat alcoholism, say researchers. Most animals have to be tricked into drinking alcohol, says Charles Abramson of Ohio State University. But a honeybee will happily drink the equivalent of a human downing 10 litres of wine at one sitting. And his experiments suggest that honeybees are susceptible to the effects of Antabuse, a vomit-inducing drug designed deter people from drinking alcohol.
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Almost every year I reply, early in August, to correspondents who, like the writer from Patterdale, have noticed dead and mutilated bees lying beneath the lime trees. But the bees, especially the drones of certain bumble-bees, are like many human drinkers; they do not know when to stop, and, soaking all day long, at last become so stupid that they cannot fly; they drop, intoxicated, to the ground beneath. Thus we find them, drunk and incapable, and often with ghastly wounds in their bodies, dead or only able feebly to move a limb. Ten or a dozen years ago I spent some time watching the limes and examining the bodies of the slain. I failed to see tits actually kill the bees, but Mr Edward Saunders , to whom I submitted some of the bees, assured me that he had seen a bee drop and detected a great tit at work in the tree; the tits, he felt sure, emptied the bodies of the stupefied bees of their honied contents.
Honeybees Strict No Drinking Policy
They had been guzzling a strong fruit punch made by fermenting berries growing on bushes along the roadside, and for many it was their last drink. Road crews had to hack the bushes down and fix metal streamers to scare the birds off. From boozy bees to inebriated elephants, alcoholism is rife in the animal kingdom. Nature provides a hour off-licence of alcohol, fermented by wild yeasts from sugars in fruit or nectar.
Bees can suffer serious effects from toxic chemicals in their environments. These include various synthetic chemicals  , such as insecticides and fertilizers , as well as a variety of naturally occurring chemicals from plants, such as ethanol resulting from the fermentation of organic materials. Bee intoxication can result from exposure to ethanol from fermented nectar, ripe fruits, and manmade and natural chemicals in the environment. The effects of alcohol on bees are sufficiently similar to the effects of alcohol on humans that honey bees have been used as models of human ethanol intoxication.