December 6, 2023

Ants bring flower to dead bumblebee and provide it a funeral

Animals continue to amaze humans with their habits, oftentimes too complex for us to even recognize. In times like that, people would find a way to incorporate human experience and emotion into their world.

Nicole Webinger, a local from Minnesota, saw a strange phenomenon. She took a video showing an ant colony appearing like they were organizing a funeral rite for a dead bumblebee.

” Saw this outside of my work by the garden. There was a dead bumblebee, and we were seeing the ants bring flower petals and leaving them around the bumblebee. It appeared like there were having a funeral for it,” Webinger wrote on her post.

The clip quickly went viral and prompted a bigger conversation on the animal kingdom.

Mark Elgar, behavior ecologist from the College of Melbourne, said he’ll even be using it in teaching first-year biology to show the power of suggestion. He discussed that it might appear like the ants holding a funeral for the bumblebee, but in reality, it was probably a natural occurrence of a different sort.

” My guess is that the bee is sitting over the top of the ants’ nest entrance, and that is why there is a number of pets sitting around the bee, including even more ants showing up with petals,” Elgar added. ” Obviously, it might be a total set-up. Somebody in fact placed the bee there thinking this might happen, creating this lovely image.”

Ants and bees release a compound called oleic acid when they pass away, according to experts. It could be that the ants located the dead bumblebee while transporting flower and thought it was one of them. Ants have a practice of transporting their deceased members of their colonies.

” Bees and ants remain in the same family (Hymenoptera), so their dead bodies are going to release similar pheromones once they die. Ants protect their nest, and ‘bury’ the bodies of their dead sisters as far from the nest as they can,” claimed Dana Kendall of Ants Canada.

One more theory is that ants were trying to hide the scent of the bee from other potential predators, so they can eat it themselves. It can also be that the ants were just creating a trash heap.

” It’s hard to say as the locality and type of ant is not clear, but most probably they are harvester ants ( vegan) taking petals back to their nest as food, and a dead bee has actually somehow ended up on top of the nest entrance,” claimed David Botton, senior curator of Hymenoptera at the Nature Museum in London. “That is to say, the bee may be even more of an obstacle for the ants if it is preventing them taking food down their burrow.”

While no one is completely sure about the incredible event, the video certainly fascinated a great deal of netizens and even specialists in the field.