“Because what we eat is such an important contributor to our physical health, we looked at the bees’ sensitivity to sugar and their willingness to consume it,” said Amdam. “Bees typically gorge on sugar and while it’s the best thing for them, we know that eating too much is not necessarily a good thing.”

Interestingly, Amdam, Rascón, and their research team discovered that bees given the compound were less sensitive to sugar. By using different sugar solutions – some very diluted and some with stronger concentrations – they found that bees receiving resveratrol were not as interested in eating the sugar solutions unless the sugar was highly concentrated. The bees basically changed their perception about food. 

In a final experiment, they measured how much food the bees would consume if given the opportunity to eat as much sugar water as they possibly could.

“Surprisingly, the bees that received the drug decreased their food intake,” said Rascón. “The bees were allowed to eat as much as they pleased and were certainly not starving – they simply would not gorge on the food that we know they like. It’s possible resveratrol may be working by some mechanism that is related to caloric restriction – a dietary regimen long known to extend lifespan in diverse organisms.”

The Research Council of Norway and the PEW Charitable Trust funded this study.