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Does the colony collapse? Do workers keep following the last orders? Or can future queens replace the dead one? I'm guessing this might also depend on each specific sub-species.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not ants unfortunately, but with bees if the queen dies the workers start rearing some larvae under queen-developing conditions. They're not normally as effective as 'proper' queens and you might end up with several at once, but you get something. Leaving this here in case someone feels like looking up whether similar processes occur in ants (although if I get time to I will try to do it myself at some point). $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Aug 19 '16 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ antweb.org/antblog/2010/12/… has an interesting answer (basically, they struggle but should survive by turning workers into temporary queens). That said, I'd like to have community experts confirm this, or detail whether it's species dependant before making it an official answer. @arboviral: looks like it works just like bees if this is true. $\endgroup$
    – leokhorn
    Sep 24 '16 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ Does your second question assume ant workers follow orders given by a qeen? I am not an ant specialist but how would that happen physically? $\endgroup$
    – BagiM
    Jan 6 '20 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @BagiM: not sure if I've imagined this or read it somewhere, but I thought pheromones were used to spread general orders, influencing behavior throughout the colony. $\endgroup$
    – leokhorn
    Feb 9 '20 at 14:13
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Not really my field, but I can point to this review which discusses a couple of different ways in which ants organize their communities: Heinze. 2008. The demise of the standard ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

I know that in some species there can be several queens per colony (so more robust to queen deaths). In many species, workers can start laying eggs if the queen dies, but these will develop as males (since they are unfertilized). However, in some species (e.g. Platythyrea punctata) the workers can reproduce by parthenogenesis which can stabilize the colony to some extent after the queen dies.

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