Market Desk (nature): Honeypot Ants or honey ants are specialized workers of several species of ants whose sole job is living to become honey storage.
Several other species of bees as well as bumblebees and even wasps are known to produce the sugary treat but perhaps the most unusual insect able to convert nectar into honey is the honeypot ant. Belonging to a number of ant species.
Ants act as food reservoirs for their colony but are also harvested by humans particularly by indigenous communities in arid regions.
In Australia, the US and Mexico there is an ant called the honeypot ant, which collects from various flowers and shrubs and stores it like a bee.
But the difference is like bees, they cannot keep the honey in any cup. They themselves hang on the walls of the colony as small ‘chucks’. The ant’s stomach is sweet.
Among the honeypot ants, the worker class, their job is to collect honey from flowers. They swallow the honey directly and deposit it in the back of their body. And that honey accumulates and at one stage the back swells like a balloon. When the situation is such that honeypot ants can no longer move due to the load of honey, they come to their colony and hang from the wall or ceiling. Then when other ants in the colony are in need of food, they collect honey from the sacs of the hanging honey ants.
Sometimes other insects attack the colony to attack and steal them. Although not as sweet as beehive honey, researchers have found that honeypot ant honey also contains glucose and other beneficial elements for the body.
The ant honey has a less viscous consistency than bee honey. It is sweet but not quite as sweet as the treat we humans are used to.
Sources: BBC Documentary and Wikipedia