Ants Filmed Performing ‘Funeral Ritual’ for Fallen Bumblebee
A video taken in a woman’s garden showing ants bringing flower petals and leaving them around a dead bumblebee is going viral for the unusual scene. In it, the ants are seen carrying pink flower petals and placing them in a circle around the bumblebee. The video, whcich was captured by Nicole Webinger, likened it to a funeral.
“Saw this outside of my work by the garden. There was a dead bumblebee, and we were watching the ants bring flower petals and leaving them around the bumblebee. It looked like they were having a funeral for it,” she wrote on Facebook.
The incredible scene has quickly racked up millions of views and prompted speculation as to what exactly the ants are doing. Are they really having a funeral for the bumblebee?
As much as it might be fun to think that these ants decided to throw a funeral and honor the bee’s life, that’s probably not the case. According to behavioral ecologist Mark Elgar, there are a few factors that likely are the reason for the baffling 46-second video.
Ants have been observed building sort of “walls” around sugary spills or around any dead animal they find with rocks and sticks.
The wall of petals would not only prevent ants from other colonies from smelling the food and alerting their colonies, but also act as a road sign for their colony as to where to find the food. It also allows the ants to harvest their find in manageable pieces.
Consider it like a dam, which contains the liquid to make it easier for the ants to collect food from the resource. So perhaps they are harvesting the bumblebee’s collection of sugary pollen or the bee itself.
Elgar believes that the most likely reason for the odd video is that the dead bee is blocking the ants’ nest entrance.
“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 petals sitting around the bee, including more ants arriving with petals.”
Regardless of the reason, it’s incredible to watch, and reminds us all of the wonders of nature big and small.