Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

Drunken Bees Create Buzz on Drunken Humans

Tipsy Bees Offer New Clues on the Effects of Alcohol in Humans

WebMD Health News

Oct. 25, 2004 -- Drunken worker bees may not produce much honey, but their behavior under the influence may help researchers understand the effects of alcohol in humans, according to new research.

Researchers found alcohol affects bees and humans in similar ways by impairing their movement and stalling their learning and memory processing, and these effects intensify according to how much alcohol they imbibe and the time since ingestion.

The study showed that honey bees that were fed the human equivalent of 200-proof grain alcohol spent most of the next 40 minutes on their backs, unable to stand. But bees who drank the human equivalent of wine spent the least amount of time of their backs, and the effects of the alcohol took about 20 minutes to sink in.

The researchers presented their findings this week at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.

"On the molecular level, the brains of honey bees and humans work the same," says researcher Julie Mustard, a postdoctoral researcher in entomology at Ohio State University, in a news release. "Knowing how chronic alcohol use affects genes and proteins in the honey bee brain may help us eventually understand how alcoholism affects memory and behavior in humans, as well as the molecular basis of addiction."

Alcohol's Effect on Bees and Humans

In the study, researchers fed worker honey bees solutions of sugar and alcohol (ethanol) with alcohol concentrations ranging from 10% to 100%. The 10% solution was equivalent to drinking wine and the 100% solution was equivalent to drinking grain alcohol.

The bees were then observed for 40 minutes, and researchers measured the amount of time they spent walking, stopped, grooming, flying, and upside down to determine the effect of alcohol.

The study showed that drinking alcohol significantly decreased the amount of time spent walking, grooming, or flying, and increased the amount of time the bees spent upside down.

"These bees had lost postural control," says Mustard. "They couldn't coordinate their legs well enough to flip themselves back over again."

Researchers found the likelihood that the bees exhibited change in their behavior increased along with the potency of the alcoholic beverage they drank.

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting