We don’t always do what’s good for us, especially when it comes to food. That kale smoothie? Not really feeling it, thanks — but that trough of french fries? Maybe I’ll just have one.

Like us, bees have trouble making the healthiest choices, according to a new study, published in Nature. In fact, they may prefer food that is laced with common agricultural pesticides: When choosing between two samples of sugar syrup in this experiment, both honeybees and bumblebees showed a preference for the neonicotinoid-laced sample. Here’s more from Science Daily:

“Neonicotinoids target the same mechanisms in the bee brain that are affected by nicotine in the human brain,” [said Geraldine Wright, lead scientist on the study]. The fact that bees show a preference for food containing neonicotinoids is concerning as it suggests that like nicotine, neonicotinoids may act like a drug to make foods containing these substances more rewarding. “If foraging bees prefer to collect nectar containing neonicotinoids, this could have a knock-on negative impact on whole colonies and on bee populations.”

Jane Stout, Professor of Botany and Principal Investigator in the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, said: “Our findings imply that even if alternative food sources are provided for bees in agricultural landscapes where neonicotinoid pesticides are used, the bees may prefer to forage on the neonicotinoid-contaminated crops. Since neonicotinoids can also end up in wild plants growing adjacent to crops, they could be much more prevalent in bees’ diets than previously thought.”

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In short, bees cannot be trusted to control their own intake of unhealthy foods, even when there’s better fare available. Sound familiar?

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