Do Honey Bees Poop?

The short answer is:

Yes, honey bees poop, and the activity of bees pooping has been observed by scientists, beekeepers and nature watchers for a variety of bee species. 

As with humans and other creatures, the act of defecating (releasing poop from the body) is important for bees, because it's a valuable bodily function for expelling undigested food wastage from the body.

Where do honey bees poop?

Adult honey bees are hygienic, and poop outside the hive (although the queen has her poop cleaned out of the hive by the workers).  Even in winter when worker bees cannot go outside of the nest or hive to forage, worker honey bees hold on to their poop, but take  what is known as ‘cleansing flights’ when they can - these are short flights (weather permitting) when they leave the hive in order to poop.

Beekeepers who recognize bee poop may see it on their windowsill, garden furniture or car.  People who live close to a regular honey bee flight path may also see bee poop (although they may not know what it is).   In cooler weather, honey bee workers may poop on the beehive itself, since they are less likely to fly far from the hive.

What does honey bee poop look like?

Healthy honey bee poop is yellow in color, and is somewhat sticky.  It might appear as yellow droplets or a longer sausage shape or 'splat'.

What is honey bee poop made of?

Honey bee poop has been found to primarily contain bits of undigested pollen fat, pollen grains from flowers visited, and other waste. 

Is it harmful?

I'm not aware of it being harmful in any way to humans or other animals.  

Is honey actually bee poop?

No.  Honey is mostly made from nectar collected by honey bees during foraging trips on flowers.  The honey bee takes the nectar back to the hive in its crop, where it is passed from bee to bee, whilst adding the bee’s own ingredient (the bee enzyme) before it is deposited into a cell made of wax where it will be turned into honey.  You can read more about this process here.

Did you know?

  • Scientists are able to collect bee poop and analyze the pollen grains it contains.  By doing this, they can find out what the bee has been foraging on.  In turn, this might also help scientists to answer other questions, such as how far bees fly to forage for food.

  • Bee poop can also be collected and used to find out about the health of a honey bee colony.  Beekeepers may collect samples of the poop and send it off to a specialist laboratory.  The scientists will examine the poop to see if it contains any evidence of disease or infection.





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