why did poppies evolve opium?

Rob Harper harper at convex.csc.FI
Fri Sep 25 02:26:36 EST 1992


In <1992Sep24.234145.9761 at u.washington.edu> bbeer at milton.u.washington.edu (Bob Beer) writes:

>I have not noticed this with P. somniferum, but I grow a greek wild poppy
>(P. dubium) in my garden, and have noticed honeybees completely stoned on
>them.  They fly around and around inside the blossoms unable to get out,
>and when dumped on the ground, they just lie there and wiggle their legs..:)

>I noticed this in Greece too - sometimes as many as 3 bees in each flower,
>almost unable to move.  This doesn't always happen - lots of bees seem to
>do okay.  Maybe it is only when they bite a stamen and get a mouthful of
>the latex?

In a recent article in the New Scientist there was a report of honey bees
getting "drunk" on fermented nectar. It is a sorry tale of drunk bees having
more flying accidents, dying younger, and being rejected back at the hive
by teetotallers. The article also suggests that if the temperature inside
the hive is allowed to rise then the honey stored there may ferment and
a watery honey reminicent of mead is produced:-) Bees with their own brewery.

New Scientist 8th August 1992 No 1833 p 14.

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