It is slightly worrying for those people who are sensitive to such matters to imagine that honey may either be bee poop. But what is the actual truth on what honey actually is or is not?
The fact is that the claim that honey is either bee vomit or even honey bee poop are actually myths far from the truth.
Honey is not bee poop. Honey is made from nectar collected by bees from flowers. It is transported to the hive in a special organ known as a honey sac from where it is handed over to the in-house bees who work towards processing the nectar into honey.
In this article, you will learn more about bee poop and the interesting process of converting nectar into honey and how the two are very different.
Do Honey Bees Poop?
Yes, honey bees do poop.
Scientists have conducted elaborate research on the phenomena, not only on honey bee species but also on other bee species and found that bees actually poop.
Defecating is a natural and essential process in insects as much as it is in humans. It is part of the ongoing life processes that every living thing must have to remain healthy. Excretion of wastes is necessary so as to remove toxins and other materials that are unbeneficial to the body. Bees too need to remove these wastes and other toxins in addition to undigested food materials, they do that by pooping.
You can conclude that if bees do not poop, then their normal body functioning will be interfered with and they could possibly die due to an accumulation of unnecessary waste in their tiny bodies. Pooping is healthy and necessary for them.
Do Queen Honey Bees Also Poop?
The queen bee is a living organism just like the rest of the other bees within her colony. She also eats and digests her food and thus at some point needs to poop out the undigested foods as a normal life-enhancing process.
Fortunately for the queen, she does not need to bother much with where to poop, or if the uncleaned poop will become a hazard to her for all her needs are well taken care of by the worker bees.
The workers ensure that the queen’s poop is quickly cleaned out of the hive to ensure the hive is always clean and tidy since bees are known to be clean freaks. They are very tidy and organized.
Where do the Honey Bees poop?
Honey bees that have grown to adults maintain extremely high standards of hygiene within their hive. Apart from the young ones and the queen bee, the rest of the adult bees ensure they poop outside the hive.
It becomes even trickier during winter when it is dangerous to fly outside the hive if not impossible because of the extremely low temperatures. During these times, the worker bees will hold on to their poop and will only fly out in a phenomenon known as ‘cleansing flights’. Essentially, these are short flights outside the hive to poop whenever the weather is a bit conducive for such a thing.
What is the Appearance of Honey Bee Poop?
From scientific observations, if a honey bee is in good health and has not ingested anything that is abnormal, the poop is usually yellow in color and slightly sticky. The shape is often in little droplets or at times can appear as elongated sausages or maybe even a splat.
It is not rare to find bee poop on your windowsill, on the car or on garden furniture if you have a hive close by. The same can be observed if where you live is a common honey bee flight path, especially during the warmer months. The phenomenon can be lesser during the cooler months because the bees are adamant to fly out of the hive and risk their lives.
What is Honey Bee Poop Made up of?
From laboratory analysis, the larger proportion of honey bee poop has been found to contain mostly undigested pollen and pollen fat that the bees ingested during their foraging visits to the flowers. In addition the poop may contain other wastes in varying proportions depending on what the specific bee ingested in their travels.
Data on the contents of honey bee poops are actually helpful to scientists, for they draw from it some reports and understand more about the bee’s behavior and flight path.
In some cases, scientists have used the results of the honey bee poop analysis to know the health of a bee and also the colony it belongs to. The honey bee poop can be used to show evidence of an existing infection or disease in bees. Such samples are very important even for you as a beekeeper in cases where you need elaborate data on different aspects of your bees.
Is Honey Bee Poop Harmful to Humans or Pets?
There is no known harmful effect of honey bee poop on humans nor on pets and other animals. You could tentatively say it is not harmful. But that does not give you the go-ahead to play around, touch or ingest honey bee poop. Consider it waste like any other, something that you would not want to play around with for your own safety and the safety of others including your pets.
Is Honey Really Bee Poop?
No, honey is not bee poop! Honey and bee poop are two totally different things. Even the content of these two materials is different.
Bee honey is processed by the bees through moisture reduction on the nectar which is the main raw material of honey coupled with enzymatic action. The process involves passing the nectar from bee to bee while adding the active enzymes from the bees themselves in the process before it is eventually deposited in wax honeycomb and the final product that is honey will be collected here.
Unlike honey, bee poop is the remaining fiber in pollen and honey that was indigestible from what the bee ate. The bee passes this out as residual waste matter from its bowels.
Where Do Honey Bees Poop?
Only the queen bee among all the colony bee poops in the hive. She has workers attending to her and cleaning up after her.
Under normal circumstances and fair weather, the rest of the honey bees will exit the hive to relieve themselves some distance away from the hive. The bees will usually travel up to 1000 feet (300 m) away from the hive to poop when the weather is good. That is why it is hard to find bee poop near or around the hive.
After a sheltering period when the bees are heavily pressed because of holding in their poop while hiding from the cold, the bees will still exit to relieve themselves but this time at a shorter distance from the hive. Because at that moment it is a matter of urgency.
Bees frequently poop on cars or even clothes on a clothing line, if these cars or clothes happen to be along the bee’s flight path as they go about their foraging activities because bees will rarely take detours along the way, they prefer to travel directly from the hive to the flowers and back. But the flight path can change depending on the availability of forage.
It is for this reason that you will often find sticky yellowish spots on cars or clothes. Indicating that there is a probability that a bee helped themselves at that location.
How Often Do Bees Poop?
Honeybees do not poop as often as most other larger animals or even humans. They can even go for several weeks without needing to go. During warm weather, the bee can go on a need basis uninhibited, but during the cold season, it is a different matter altogether. The bees are sheltered inside because of the freezing temperatures outside, but still, they will not willfully defecate in their hives.
After several weeks and when the pressure has built up in their bowels, they will take short ‘cleansing flights’ to relieve themselves while ensuring the hive remains clean.
During the cold season, there is a particularly higher accumulation of gut fiber residue, sometimes this can be up to 40% of the bee’s total weight. The accumulation is because the bees are eating a lot so as to have energy in their bodies for generating heat. The more the energy needed to fight the cold, the more food they eat and thus the more the accumulation of gut fiber residue. They are careful to avoid drinking any fluid at such a time because doing so could expand the fiber in their gut further causing the bee to have diarrhea.
Does Honey Bee Poop Have a Smell?
Honey bee poop has a smell, but it is very minimal to a point that it is almost undetectable by the human nose, unless it is bee diarrhea which tends to have a stronger smell.
When there is a diarrhea outbreak within a colony, if not quickly handled, the condition can get out of hand and wipe away the entire hive within a short time. Experienced apiarists speculate that the strong scent of diarrhea breaks down the communication capabilities of the bees with each other eventually leading to a collapse of the colony system and thus eventual death.
If your bees are suffering from diarrhea, you will easily notice it from the foul smell emanating from your hive, and removing the top lid will reveal it when you look inside your hive.
Do Honey Bees Fart?
In terms of the actual mechanism behind a fart according to human understanding, bees do not fart.
Farts come about as a result of the release of methane gas developed from bacteria within the gut digesting meat. Methane gas is actually flammable. With this in mind, it is obvious that bees do not have meat on their diet because their main diet involves plant material. Bees are unable to produce methane gas, which is the cause of the farting because they only eat honey and pollen.
However, there is a debate between various experts with some suggesting that bees can fart when releasing air that got trapped within their digestive tract in the process of ingesting their food. Yet others argue that bees cannot have possibly ingested air while eating because they do not use their mouths or nose to breathe.
How can you get Rid of Bee Poop from a Car’s Surface?
From people who have encountered such a problem before, the consensus is that it is not easy to remove stains caused by bee poop, especially if your car is of bright color.
The difficulty of removing the stain is dependent on how long the bee poop has been on the surface and the type of finish the car has. Some surfaces adhere to the poop more than others.
Even washing the car is not a guarantee that the poop will be removed. You need to put in extra effort to remove the stain. Honey bee poop has the power to stay for longer than you could imagine.
A good trick is to use a spray cleaner. Wet the corner of a cloth with the spray cleaner and scrub the spot with the bee poop applying sufficient pressure until the bee poop is removed.
If that does not work because the poop has been on the surface of your car for a long time, you may be forced to use a more abrasive compound than the spray cleaner but one that will not scratch the surface of your car. Some people have experimented with steel wool and claim it works. That is for you to find out.
But the most important thing to do is to avoid parking your car in a location that is along a bee’s flight path. Because, if you forget to remove the bee poop, it is as well as permanent, because of the propolis from the bee which almost acts like super glue.
How to Remove Bee Poop from Clothes or Furniture
Do not expect this to be easy, fortunately, it is not impossible.
You will have to soak the affected area in rubbing alcohol. Nail polish can also work equally well. Thereafter, scrub the spot thoroughly, adding more alcohol if necessary until the poop is removed.
Hopefully you have learned something new and most of your questions about honey bee poop have been answered.
Nice time interacting more with these wonderful insects.