Honey bees are fascinating creatures. But, let’s be honest, they are very different from human beings. So it’s understandable people are curious about whether or not some of their bodily functions mimic our own.
Do Bees Poop?
Yes – just like humans, honey bees do poop. Bees eat both nectar and pollen to give them energy. They digest the useful nutrients from their food and, whatever their bodies don’t need, they excrete in a sticky, yellowy substance that looks a little bit like mustard.
Bee poop often appears as small, round droplets, but it can have a longer smear pattern too, due to the height at which bees drop it from.
Bee poop is often difficult to clean off due to its sticky nature. I have left sheets out on the clothes line to dry only to find them stained with bee poop before. If you have bees in your backyard, you will likely notice the poop at some point, particularly on your car windshield, deck or outdoor furniture.
The good news is that bee poop is a sign that the colony is healthy. The only time you need to be worried is if you notice a significant amount of poop inside the hive or at the entrance. This could be a sign of either poor diet or disease.
Where Do Bees Poop?
Generally, healthy worker bees don’t poop inside their hive for hygienic reasons. Worker bees are also responsible for cleaning up the poop of the queen, larvae and drones. This helps to keep the inside of the hive clean.
Interestingly, bees are very tidy creatures and sterilize their hives with antimicrobial resin. Keeping the hive clean gives a bee colony a form of social immunity. It reduces the likelihood of the spread of disease and infestation, helping to keep their colony strong.
In order to keep the hive clean, worker bees poop outside, usually while flying. Even in Winter, when temperatures outside are very cold, worker bees will hold off until a warmer day and make a ‘cleansing trip’ to poop outside. You may notice poop on the outside of the hive in Winter, because the temperature becomes too cold for bees to travel very far.
Is Bee Poop Dangerous Or Toxic?
Unless you ingest it, bee poop isn’t toxic or harmful to humans. And even then, chances are it’s completely harmless – I’m not sure anyone has ever tested what would happen if you did eat it, and I certainly don’t intend to find out for myself.
If anything, seeing bee poop around your yard is a good thing, because it is a sign that your hive is healthy. The only way it would be cause for concern is if, as mentioned above, there was a lot of poop inside the hive.
How To Clean Off Bee Poop
Bee poop is a sticky, messy substance that can be difficult to clean off. This becomes a problem during Spring, when more bees are out foraging far and wide for pollen and nectar.
You’ll probably notice bee poop on your car, on windows, on outdoor furniture, and even on your clothes if you hang them out to dry. So how do you clean off bee poop?
Well, it depends on the surface. The most common places you might notice bee poop are:
Clothes – if there is bee poop on your clothes, rub some shampoo or dishwashing liquid onto the spot, massage it in, then wash the clothes in your washing machine.
Cars – if you notice bee poop on your car, spray the spot with some waterless car wash, then wipe it off using a microfibre cloth.
Do Bees Pee?
While honey bees do drink water, they need to hold as much of the liquid in their bodies as possible to avoid drying out. As such, they do not urinate. However, bees do release liquid waste in the form of uric acid.
Uric acid is safe for bees to get rid of because it doesn’t contain a significant amount of water. Bees excrete uric acid, as well as ammonia, from their Malpighian tubules, which function for insects in a similar way kidneys do for humans. The ammonia and uric acid are mixed with other waste products before being excreted from the body.
Uric acid from a bee is typically white in color. Its appearance is described as looking similar to bird feces.
Do Bees Pee While Flying?
Bees sometimes void or ‘squirt’ water from their system while flying, which can give the appearance of a bee urinating. However, the water is not urine. It is actually excess water bees have taken on while collecting nectar.
You see, nectar has a high water content, which can weigh bees down too much while foraging. By voiding the excess water, they are able to continue collecting nectar for longer periods of time. This is quite common in bumblebees, but it’s something honey bees do as well.
Do Bees Fart?
This question is more difficult to answer as, unlike with pee and poop, there is no physical evidence that can be used as proof. However, from what I have read online on various forums discussing the matter, some biologists have suggested that bees do in fact pass wind.
Bees eat pollen, which passes through their digestive system. During this process, it is likely pockets of air can establish in the fecal matter which, when excreted, would come out as farts.
Do Bees Vomit?
Many people think honey bees vomit to make honey – but they don’t. Bees make honey from the nectar they store inside their honey stomach, which is an expandable crop located inside the oesophagus. The nectar is then regurgitated and passed between other worker bees who evaporate the moisture content by fanning their wings.
If nectar bypasses a bee’s honey stomach and moves into the midgut for digestion, it cannot be vomited out. In other words, it is impossible for a bee to vomit or return nectar from its digestive stomach into the honey stomach located in the oesophagus.
Honey bees are insects and their anatomy is distinct to humans’. While their bodies function in different ways to ours, bees do in fact poop in the form of sticky yellow excrement. During the process, it is likely bees fart as well, given the potential buildup of gas in their digestive system.
Bees do not urinate, though – they instead produce uric acid which is mixed with other waste before passing through their bodies. Bees don’t vomit either, but they do regurgitate nectar from their honey stomachs during the process of making honey.
Did you find this interesting? Here are other strange but fascinating bee behaviors maybe you didn’t know about.