Ants and Personal Volition
(c) Robert Neil Boyd

If you will study ants and termites, in intimacy, and in a Natural environment, you will discover that each ant and termite is an individual with personal volition and the ability to make personal choices in the process of fulfilling the decrees of the queen. Also, you may discover the fact that there can arise circumstances which require negotiations with the queen and policy decisions to be made by her, based on the exigencies of the circumstances. These kinds of processes occur telepathically between the queen and the individual. The queen also causes that certain individuals who are acting as scouts, have near perfect individual volition, for to do otherwise would result in scouting failures, due to excessive constraints.

And while the individual members do not "worship" the queen, they do love her and respect her superior intellectual skills and her trait of creating what is best for the collective as a whole.

Individual ants can disobey the queen's directives at will, based on the immediate circumstances. Were this otherwise, such creatures would not long survive. And they have survived for millions of years already.

Shoot, sometimes the individuals just go off and play! Because they feel like it... Nothing constrains ant behavior, except their devotion to the queen, who is devoted to them. Heck, even the queen plays sometimes!

One day, I placed a wide short plastic container on the ground near an ant nest, and filled it with Coca Cola, because I was somewhat intimate with that particular group of ants, and knew that they like Coke. When a few of the ants on other missions discovered the Coke, some of them went along their way on their missions, while after negotiating among each other they decided to send a few ants back along to the queen to give her the details. Subsequently, assignments were made to certain individuals in the nest to go out and obtain the sweet offering. I watched the gathering force of ever more ants gathering around the container, sucking up the nectar. Then, suddenly, I noticed several of the quite large and exceedingly powerful guardian ants foray out of the entrance to the nest. The regular workers quickly scattered from around the container as the guardian ants approached the area, looking for possible hazards. One of the guard then turned around and went back into the nest, whereupon the queen came out of the entrance to the nest accompanied by a protective escort of guards. She went straight for the container of Coke. I thought at first she was going to indulge in drinking some of the Coke, but no. Instead, when she reached the container, all her escorts took up flanking positions away from the container, and the queen went for a prolonged and obviously pleasurable swim(!), in the bounty of the Coke. She indulged herself this way for probably five to seven minutes, then she apparently decided she'd had enough, so she turned back toward the entrance and escorted by a host of guards, went back into the nest.

It was fun to watch ;)