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Red Wine's Resveratrol Helps Bees Live Longer

Bees? Yes. Scientists say honey bees have important similarities to humans; fed a diet including resveratrol, bees ate better

Jacob Gaffney
Posted: November 6, 2012

A recent study on the red wine compound resveratrol is generating buzz with its conclusions. According to researchers at life science centers in Arizona and Norway, the behavior of honey bees is altered when they are fed diets supplemented with resveratol.

Prior studies show some promise that resveratrol may increase lifespan and preserve animals' cognitive functions as they age, according to co-author Gro Amdam, a food scientist at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. "In the current study, we tested whether we could promote healthy aging in the honey bee via the administration of resveratrol," her study states.

What does bee health have to do with human health? Honey bees, the study explains, are similar to humans socially, in that they have different social statuses. The ways in which bees behave, based on their roles in life, impacts their probability of survival. Honey bees caring for young in the hive are not as exposed to danger as foraging bees, for example. Therefore, the authors argue, if resveratrol shows health benefits for one higher-order species, there is a possibility this may carry over to other groups of organisms.

In the study, populations of bees were separated and provided either a normal diet or a resveratrol-enhanced meal of ground pollen and sucrose. Free access to sugar was always available. The scientist measured how long the bees lived.

Two resveratrol treatments, in amounts of 30 and 130 micromoles, lengthened the average lifespan in wild-type honey bees by 38 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Amdam says it's because the resveratrol-diet bees regulated their intake of sugar better. But she couldn't say if such results may translate to humans. "We do not know if resveratrol can change peoples' food perception, but this effect is clear in bees: they become less interested in sugar, and consumed less sugary drink when they have free access to it," Amdam told Wine Spectator.

However, unlike other studies, the 130 micromoles solution was no more powerful than the smaller dose; rather, the opposite was observed. "Less is more—at least for the bees," said Amdam. "That does not mean that every species, including humans, will react the same way. We have to be open to the possibility that dose responses are not a simple linear function going up into the sky. Too much isn't always better."

Geirr I Leistad
Sandvika, Norway —  November 8, 2012 2:52pm ET
If you believe this, you will believe that. I am not a honeybee, but will happily continue to enjoy my red wine. But I have noted that as I have grown older, my preferences have shifted slightly towards the whites. One thing I have learned im my career is that science mainly is about making mistakes and then to get rid of them as fast as you can. It has taken a long time to realize that anti-oxidants do not amount to much, but its mafia is still busy in the snake oil industry. Well then, honeybees are not humans, and I know of no peer-reviewed research which have been able to show any tangible benefits of resveratrol. I rather treat myself
to a glass of Trockenbeerenauslese, sugar content +300g/l. I shall not divulge its name, but WS rated it at 98!

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