Nicole Webinger, a resident of Minnesota, recently posted a video that quickly went viral, and amazed everyone, especially scientists.
On the video, Webinger caught a pretty odd behavior which according to experts is something they’ve never seen before among ants- they’re carrying petals of flowers over the body of a dead bumblebee.
Many viewers said how this reminded them of a funeral.
In addition to the video, Webinger wrote that this happened in his garden. Namely, there was a dead bumblebee and all of a sudden, ants piled up and started bringing flower petals and were living them near the bumblebee’s body.
Are Funerals Practiced by other Species?
Funerals are indeed a complex attitude and something that’s happening only among humans and several other mammals such as elephants.
This is why there’s a lot of speculation when it comes to saying that it’s happening among ants too. Experts are still struggling to find out the underlying reason for this specific behavior in the ants. The proposed theories are interesting.
What Are the Proposed Theories?
One hypothesis is that both the ants and bees release a compound called oleic acid when they die. Hence, this gives the insects an opportunity to know when one of their own has passed away.
In bees, the dead member is removed from the hive whereas ants transport the dead one to a heap.
This being said, it may be that the ants have come across the body of the dead bumblebee while they were transporting flower petals and thought it was a dead ant and so started to drop the petals so that they can drag the bee to the heap.
However, if ants can’t make a difference between the oleic acid released by them and that of the bees, we would be seeing ants carrying dead bees all the time.
A second hypothesis claims that the ants may be burying the bee to mask the smell and hide it from predators. Consequently, they can eat the bee themselves without them being interrupted by other scavengers.
Anyhow, regardless of why the ants were doing this, it’s still amazing to watch and it’s a beautiful reminder about the wonders of nature, no matter how small or big they are.