As part of his Ph.D program, Ryan Brock has been observing a colony of tree bumblebees particularly the ongoing feud between the queen and one of her disobedient workers.
In a tree bumblebee hive, the queen is the one who builds her colony from scratch. She finds a place for her nest, lays eggs and forages for pollen to feed her offspring.
Eventually, her eggs hatch into workers who take over foraging duties, letting the queen stay in the nest and focus her time to laying eggs. Like any other kingdom, only the offspring of the royal family (in this case, the queen) can inherit the throne. But there are worker bees who wanted to lay eggs hoping that their offspring could one day take over the hive. There are cases that bumblebees will even kill the queen to help their babies move on.
Like in this case, there is a worker bee, named Worker #3, who obviously doesn’t like the current queen. In fact, worker #3 already started her rebellion.
“I observed Worker Three attacking the queen while she was laying eggs,” Brock told The Dodo, “but, unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera handy.”
The next day, Brock captured worker#3 doing a more rebellious act – laying her own eggs. The queen caught her laying eggs so she wrestle worker #3 away from the eggs. Then the queen consume the worker’s eggs, leaving no trace behind.
“It has long been suggested that aggressive interactions occur between the queen and her workers, but documenting it on camera was absolutely incredible,” Brock shared. “I felt very lucky to have witnessed something that few people are even aware of!”