Do Bees Poop?

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People often wonder if bees poop? Honey bees are of particular interest since they live in a colony with thousands of individuals. That would be a lot of bee-size “potties”. No more suspense, yes they do poop and this can be an exciting topic in beekeeping circles. Mainly because the wastes of bees can tell you a bit about colony health.

Honey bees entering a hive with poop stains or feces on the hive front.

In an effort to understand basic bee facts, it is interesting to learn exactly what bee poop is and is not. There are some popular myths floating around in regards to where these wastes come from and where they end up.

What does Honey Bee Poop Look Like?

Bee feces often appear as small yellow blobs on the surface of objects. These sticky droppings can appear on the outside of the hive or your car. Other times, the wastes look like small mustard yellow strings or splats.

The shape of bee excrement depends on the angle of impact. Is the bee flying or stationary – is the poop hitting a moving car etc.

The health of the individual also plays a role in consistency. Members of a colony with disease often have larger watery wastes, just the same as any animal with dysentery.

What the bees eat also affects the appearance of excrement. Making sugar water for bees is okay but make sure to use the right kind. Something that is difficult to digest can cause dysentery.

Even some winter protein patties that beekeepers feed can result in more feces than normal.

Normal bee poop in yellow string on hive front image.

Honey Bee Feces

A quick review of honey bee anatomy, reveals that the internal structures function much the same as that of other insects.

When nutrients are consumed, any substances that can not be used are expelled from the body. Much of the liquids are reabsorbed resulting in a moderately liquid to dry feces.

In fact, bee poop contains thousands of pollen grains and fats. The tough protective walls of pollen grains are not used by the digestive system. Therefore, some are passed through the bee and expelled.

Where do Honey Bees Poop?

Bee poop can be seen anywhere that bees fly. A beekeeper is most likely to first notice wastes on the front of the hive.

This is not cause for great concern as some foraging workers don’t make it far enough away as they leave the hive.

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While massive amounts of watery feces can sometimes be a sign of disease-it is not always the case. There are other reasons that cause wastes to be more abundant or watery than usual.

A colony that has been confined to the hive for several days due to weather etc, will show more wastes on and near the hive.

Worker bees expel wastes while in flight or while foraging on flowers. Unfortunately, this is sometimes how disease is spread from one colony to another.

If a sick bee leaves behind infected fecal material on a bloom, the next visitor may come in contact with it and pick up contaminates. Unfortunately, that is nature and there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

Protecting Cars and Neighbors from Bee Excrement

Park your car near the front of your hive on warm days, and chances are you will experience bee poop-first hand. Of course, it can be washed off but it takes a bit of effort.

The most likely place to experience problems is in the main flight path to the front of the hive. Avoid parking cars here or having items such as clothes lines or patio furniture near the apiary.

This is particularly important to those involved in urban beekeeping or those who have hives in close neighborhoods. Consider what the flight path of your hive is likely to be and what is in that area.

As a beekeeper decides where to place a beehive and even which direction the entrance needs to face, human dwellings should be considered.

Even where beehives are allowed, some towns have ordinances related to complaints about bee feces. Be a good neighbor and you are less likely to have problems down the road.

Bee excrement spots on hive image.

Why Bees Don’t Expel Wastes in the Hive

In healthy bees, wastes are almost always excreted away from the hive. Adult bees are hygienic and inherently aware of the need to keep the hive as clean as possible.

Only sick or confined bees poop inside the hive. This unhygienic behavior can lead to a rapid spread of disease and cause colony failure.

Diseases that are spread through fecal matter such as nosema disease are more common during times when bees are confined.

Cleansing Flights

During Winter, honey bees survive by staying inside the hive due to cold temperatures that prevent flight. Because, their activity is reduced, they hold their wastes.

However, on a warm Winter day – you will see thousands of bees flying near the hive taking advantage of the warm weather for a “poop break”.

Technically, this activity is know as “cleansing flights”. If you look closely, you may see a relieved look on their face? Just kidding.

This activity can be rather frightening to new beekeepers who fear their colony is about to leave – or abscond but things should quieten down in a few minutes.

Cleansing and orientation flights are common on warm afternoons and often all the hives do it at the same time. Of course, these take place on all warm days throughout the year.

Yellow snow bee feces in front of hive image.

Is Honey Really Bee Poop?

No, honey is not bee poop – I don’t know who got that myth started. Honey bees make honey primarily from plant nectar that is collected by worker bees. Collected nectar does not pass through the bee’s digestive system.

Another popular question revolves around the idea that honey is bee vomit. This too is wrong as the process of converting nectar to honey does not take place by bee digestion.

Do Bees Use Waste for Defense?

Some interesting info in the news depicted the use of feces by bees for defensive purposes. The story caused quite a stir.

However, this was not bee poop – rather the bees are collecting dung or wastes from other animals and placing it around the hive entrance to discourage “predator hornets“.

But, be aware that this information refers to the Eastern Honeybee native to Asia – not the type of honey bees we have in North America.


Do queen bees poop?

Yes, the queen honey bee poops too. In spite of the fact that her nutritious diet results in little waste, her body expels some feces. Her attendants clean the wastes from her body.

Is bee poop toxic?

No, honey bee wastes are not toxic in any way that I know. It can spread disease among bee colonies but does not seem dangerous to others.

Do bees pee?

Water management is very important to insects to prevent dehydration. Honey bees do not need to urinate (or pee). Instead they secrete uric acid and ammonia waste from their Malpighian tubes.

What is Yellow Rain?

This is a term used to describe the area in front of a beehive where the snow is covered with bee droppings. Common on a warm Winter day after a snowfall – the bees come out for a cleansing flight.

How can I protect my car from bee poop?

Protect your car from bee droppings by not parking it near the front or “flight path” of a beehive.

How to clean bee poop off your car?

Warm soapy water, a car sponge and some elbow grease are the best methods of removing bee poop from a car. If the feces has been there for a while, presoaking may be beneficial.


Our honey bees are fascinating insects and the more we learn about them – the more interesting they become. Like other living things, they consume nutrients and their bodies must defecate or expel wastes from their body. Understanding what is normal in regards to bee poop can help beekeeper’s make good decisions about hive management.

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