Small honey ants, also known as false honey ants, are cold-tolerant species and have divided slender thorax, making them different from others.
Do Small Honey Ants Make Honey? Small honey ants cannot make honey, but they can collect and store honey as they prefer to eat sugary substances and fluids like plant saps, flower nectars, honeydew, and foods like cakes, syrups, and fruits. Moreover, they store honey in their crops and become replete with expanded gasters. Furthermore, they regurgitate and feed the fluids to small worker ants, larvae, and queens and are responsible for nourishing the whole colony.
Honeypot ants are large replete workers who store sweet juices and sugary materials to feed their colonies and play a significant role in the population’s survival.
Why do small honey ants store honey?
The small honey ants prefer to eat sweet juice like nectar and store the sugary substances in their bodies. Therefore, it is essential to keep excess sugars in their stomachs so these can be used later.
Moreover, they have to feed other hungry fellows in the nest who cannot go out to forage for food due to their weaker bodies.
The worker ants are responsible for feeding the larvae; that’s why they navigate for sources in the far areas and collect the honey to bring it back to the nest.
In addition, the queens cannot leave the nest and depend on larger workers to get nutrition as they have to take care of the larvae and produce more fertilized eggs.
The task of food collection is only controlled by the workers or replete that feed nest members through trophallaxis.
They can also consume the stored food for their nourishment as it becomes difficult to move with swollen stomachs as their body weight increases.
Furthermore, these larger workers are responsible for nourishing the whole colony and distributing fluids to the young larvae, adult workers, and queens.
The stored fluids can also help them survive in drought conditions when there is no water availability and keep their bodies hydrated. Additionally, it helps in the survival and reproduction activities of nests.
How do small honey ants collect honey?
The small honey ants navigate the ground and leaf litter to find the source of sugary substances, as they do not like to eat pure honey and prefer to feed on plants.
They can suck plant sap from the stems as it is rich in sugars, amino acids, vitamins, and organic acids that provide a good source of nourishment.
In addition, they can also obtain food through flower nectar, a sweet sugary substance that contains sucrose, fructose, and glucose in an adequate amount.
Flowering crops like cotton buds and beans provide sweet nectar and attract insects that are searching for sweet food that is easily consumed and digested.
Accordingly, they chew flower buds and soft tissue of plants to get juice or sap from them.
You can find them feeding on the food leftovers that are sweet in taste, like sugar syrup, fruits, honey, and cakes that can be stored in their stomach for a long time.
Furthermore, they can also be found close to aphids and other scaly insects that secrete honeydew as they have to obtain the juice and store it in their crops.
Where do small honey ants store honey?
Many insects, including wasps and honey bees, store sweet juices in their nests or bodies and consume the fluids when their bodies need instant energy.
However, you can find a distinct behavior of storing sweet juices in the honeypot ants as they keep it inside their bodies and become living storage.
They suck sweet fluids from their mouth and throw them back in their gut that passes into the false stomach or crop region having a valve at the opening that these insects can control.
It allows their gasters to expand, which increases multiple times in size when it gets filled with fluid. However, it can slowly get back to standard size when the stored fluid is consumed.
It is not completely digested in the true stomach and is passed to the crop and accumulates there. As a result, the bellies or lower ends of their bodies appear swollen due to excessive accumulation.
In addition, the replete ants suspend their bodies on the ceiling of the nest and feed young ones through their mouth.
Accordingly, they release fluids in the form of drops when the antennae of hungry fellows stimulate their bodies.
This stimulation signals that their fellows are hungry and need food and ask them to release stored fluid into their mouth through regurgitation.
So, the replete worker makes efforts to turn the other workers into replete and ensure the survival of the whole colony.
Do all small honey ants store honey?
The female worker ants are involved in collecting and storing honey as they have to forage for food in their territory and navigate all around in different areas.
In addition, the males are short-lived members of the colony; that’s why other members do not rely on them for getting nutrition.
The workers consume sugary substances to get energy as they have to perform challenging tasks. In addition, they eat and store sap juice and nectar in their crops and return to their nest.
Furthermore, these small honey ants are monomorphic species in which only workers can become replete compared to polymorphic ones.
Do small honey ants burst?
The small honey ants do not burst like others, as bursting behavior is common in some species of these insects when they have to ensure the survival of their colonies.
However, a swollen honeypot ant release stored fluids slowly in the form of drops during unfavorable conditions when food and water are unavailable.
This stored food is usually used in drought conditions when there is a risk of drying exoskeletons that need to be kept hydrated.
Furthermore, it can also help survive in famine conditions when there is no food around and there is a risk of death due to lack of nutrition.
Moreover, their bellies appear like grapes as they have reached a maximum size attained by their stomachs and become swollen.