Friday July 2nd 0942 Local (possibly) 1942 UTC
Good morning! I am an avid reader and I enjoy
reading. To name but a few categories of books I
enjoy; biographies, true adventures, politics, finance, economics, history
and natural history. Note - no fiction. Recently I was reading about an
incredible species of ant and how their colonies had developed and
finally imploded over many years. I will tell you about them if you can
clear your mind and think, THINK about it.
The colony, the Beta colony like other
colonies, initially had a Queen ant and all the soldier ants in the colony
brought a little something to her from time to time to improve her nest.
The Queen ant being a powerful ant, over time started demanding more
contribution from the soldier ants. The soldier ants resenting this, then
decided that they should have leaders called officer ants to represent
them and to keep the Queen ant from getting too big for her nest as it
were. They would also provide the leadership
of the colony, coordinate the work and provide the things for the colony that
were better done collectively, like organising the protection of the colony
from other ants and other predators and work in the service of the colony
generally. The soldier ants all contributed to keep the officers fed as the
officers were not able to go out of the colony to collect food for themselves.
If they did not like the job they were doing the soldier ants would attack and
eat the officer ants and "elect" a new officer in its place.
Over time the numbers of officer ants grew and the
jobs and roles they were required to do for the colony also grew. The soldier
ants had to work just that bit harder to provide for the greater numbers of
officer ants. The officer ants did not have to go out of the colony and gather
food and run the risk of being eaten by other predators. They also were well fed
and did not have to take the risks that the soldier ants had to. Except that
they could be eaten if they did not do a good job! Amazing!
As the officers grew in number they started
creating additional roles in the colony for themselves to do and the new
officers that would be needed to help them. With more like minded officers, they
grew in power just a little bit more in the colony and in fact they could work a
little bit less the more officers they got. They were safe and well fed. They
fed from a collective store that all the soldier ants had to contribute to and
they made sure that it was always full. The soldier ants did not really notice
how much harder they were all having to work to contribute their individual
little, but growing bit to the officers collective store.
The officer ants then organised themselves and
elected "Major" ants who in turn appointed more officer ants (who knew how to
play the game and who would not be up to being a be soldier
ant) and funtions within the colony that they could provide to the soldier
ants. The soldier ants, proportionately fewer in number now, were having to work
even harder to provide for this growing element of the colony who were not
collecting their own food. There was no obvious point in the history
of the colony when (by which time many of the officers were
"oaf-icers") the officer numbers grew so great that each soldier ant
was now keeping one officer ant in service. The soldier ants could no
longer eat the officer ants as they were just too great in number.
As the officer numbers had by this time grown so
large the Beta colony was now virtually under their control and they
decided to start taking advantage of some additional privileges. Despite already
having a safe role in the colony they now started to draw even more resource
from the collective store. The decreasing number of soldier ants were now having
to work double quick time to keep the store topped up! Some ants started to
leave the colony because the burden was so great. This left even fewer soldier
ants to feed the officer ants! However the soldier ants in the Beta colony were
some of the most productive in the ant world and they were producing a bounty
for the collective store (hoping to build up a reserve for a hard winter).
The officer ants not hearing the cries from the soldier ants about their unfair
work burden, were in the ascendency and now decided to expand their numbers
and roles even further in the colony. They all ate much more and worked a bit
less and in fact took great advantage too of the lower placed officers -
underfeeding them so they themselves could have even more. Many of them could
not do the work of a soldier ant yet worked about 1/3 less than the soldiers for
a greater share of the collective store. Quite often in fact they did not show
for work in the colony at all, but that didn't really affect them because they
had the collective store to draw from. The soldier ants however, though now much
less in number and supporting an enormous number of officer ants, not only
had to work ever harder - they could not take a days respite from food gathering
lest they starve or would be repremanded by the officer ants. This seemed so
unjust and in fact the behaviour of some of the officers, though to be fair
there were many notable exceptions, was in some cases almost (if it were in
the real world) criminal in how they squandered the hard won resources of the
soldier ants. The excesses were many and became normalised. How could the
soldiers let this happen? Breathtaking!
In addition, the officer ants, though their
role was safe and they were better fed than the soldier ants and did not have to
work as much, decided they should quit their role as officers early,
but would draw from the store for the rest of their lives, making way
for a new officer ants and swelling the burden on the soldier ants. This,
despite the fact that the store was now dangerously low. As there were
finally so many of the oaf-icers, officers, captains, majors and generals to be
fed by the soldier ants the store was not adequate to feed them all. So they
drew the last bit from the store and then asked the hard working Alpha
colony in the next tree, who had not gone down the route of organising their
colony in this way if they could borrow some food from their store. The Alpha
colony had an overflowing collective store and were happy to lend some food to
keep the Beta colony going. After all the Beta colony would now have
to re-organise itself, dramatically cut down the officer numbers and
increase the soldier numbers. Sadly however the soldier ants would now have to
work even harder to pay back the Alpha colony as well as refill its own
collective store or the Alpha colony would just march across and eat them.
Not fiction - fact!
Where is this Beta colony? Why of
course Britain. What period in history did this happen? Sometime over the
past 15 - 20 years!
If I were a soldier ant in this colony I would fly
away and sail off West, into the sunset ............