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Honey! Red Wine is Good for Bees Too

Sep 25, 2012 07:30 AM EDT

Drinking red wine can possibly increase the lifespan, after all a new study has found that a compound used in red wine is working wonders in bees that are disappearing rapidly due to urbanisation.

A team of international researchers from Norway and the United States performed various experiments in order to test if the compound resveratrol found in red wine can actually extend the lifespan of the honey bees.  

Experts were in for a surprise when they noticed that the compound not only extended the lifespan of the bees by 33 to 38 percent, but they also realized that the chemical also prompted the honey bees to consume less food.

Earlier studies have shown that red wine helps other living organisms like unicellular yeast, fruit flies and mice to live longer. Resveratrol is already believed to activate the anti-aging gene and slow down the aging process, thus increasing the lifespan. However, this is the first time that experts have tested the impact of the chemical on honey bees.

Resveratrol worked well and increased the lifespan of the bees under normal conditions. However, it did not give any positive response when consumed under stressful conditions.

In order to find out what makes the bees to live longer, experts provided dilute and strong concentrations of sugar to the bees as they are very sensitive to it and indulge in overeating. They found the bees that fed on resveratrol did not show much interest in consuming sugar unless they were highly concentrated.

The honey bees did not starve but it rather appeared that the compound triggered some sort of 'moderation effect', which reduced the appetite for the bees and changed their perception of what they eat, pointed out the researchers.

It is not clear as to how the compound works, but experts believe that the mechanism is something to do with restricting calories for a longer lifespan.

"Surprisingly, the bees that received the drug decreased their food intake," Brenda Rascón, an associate professor in Arizona State University, said in a news release.

"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," she said.

The findings of the study, "The lifespan extension effectsof resveratrol are conserved in the honey bee and may be driven by a mechanismrelated to caloric restriction", are published in the journal Aging.

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