Bees are responsible for the diversity of plant life around us. Despite this, their numbers are declining. As such, they’ve been receiving more media attention than usual, and you’ve undoubtedly heard of the fertilization problems that may be facing farmers if honey bees are not protected.
As a result of all of this fascination with bees, it’s natural to become curious about some of their more biological activities. It turns out that bees are hygienic, even cleaning each other like cats.
So, do these clean creatures poop? We’ll discuss their excretions as well as some other common questions that arise when looking for defecation information.
Do Bees Poop?
Yes, bees poop. However, bee poop looks a lot different than human poop. That’s because their digestive system is much different than ours, even if there are some similarities in functionality.
Bee poop primarily consists of fats and grains. Pollen particles have walls around them, and these walls are not digestible. As a result, they need to pass through the bee and come out as leftover waste. That waste is bee poop.
Bee poop doesn’t smell like the fecal matter of meat-eaters, which stinks due to decomposition. Because of a bee’s diet, their excrement is sweet-smelling, sticky, and watery. It’s usually orange in color, but it can vary based on the pollen they are consuming.
Do Bees Pee?
No, bees do not pee. Instead, they have another type of system which releases ammonia and uric acid through organs known as Malpighian tubes. These secretions combine with fecal matter and are released as a runny solid.
This runny solid is expelled out the anus as feces. There is no differentiation between urine and feces because they don’t have a completely separate system for processing uric acid and liquid waste like humans.
Do Bees Fart?
Yes, bees fart. During their digestive process, gases are produced, which must be expelled out the anus like their solid waste. They don’t trumpet out an independent toot like mammals, but they release gases as they defecate.
Whether or not a bee fart makes any noise has yet to be studied.
Where Do Bees Poop?
Bees poop anywhere they fly, and they don’t stop what they’re doing to take a dump. They try their best not to defecate on flowers they’re using as a food source, but it happens sometimes.
Bees have rules around their pooing. They do not defecate in the hive, and they relieve themselves outside a few times per week. They can experience upset digestive tracts like people, resulting in stool winding up in the hive where it doesn’t belong.
Winter is too cold for a bee to leave the hive, so they can hold it for an extended period. On the first warm day as winter breaks, bees leave the hive en masse to take a long-awaited dump. If they’re cooped up too long by the weather, they will experience constipation which can become deadly.
Beekeepers can tell in which direction a hive’s food source is by the trails of poop that the bees leave behind as they fly back and forth. When bees find food, they use that food source until it is all gone, which means the easiest way to locate what they’re feeding on is to follow the feces.
Do Bees Vomit Honey?
No, bees do not vomit honey. They regurgitate it. Honey never enters or leaves their digestive tract, so they do not vomit honey. Vomit means that stomach contents are being thrown up, whereas regurgitating just means something came out of the esophagus. This distinction is important when discussing honey bees.
Some bees regurgitate nectar, which is turned into honey by other bees back at the hive. The nectar-sipping bee stores nectar in a honey stomach, which is separate from the digestive tract. In the honey stomach, enzymes mix with the nectar, which kickstarts the development of honey. When the nectar-filled bee returns to the hive, it spits the nectar from its honey stomach into the mouths of worker bees in the hive.
Do Bees Poop Out Honey?
No, bees do not poop out honey. Honey results from plant nectar that is gathered by worker bees and never enters or leaves the digestive tract. Some bits of waste are filtered out of the honey stomach and pushed into the digestive tract, but the area of the body that controls this is completely one-directional.
Contaminants from the digestive tract can’t reach the nectar in the honey stomach. This provides worker bees with purer nectar than was originally collected.
Do Bees Get Diarrhea?
Yes, sick bees can get diarrhea. Dysentery is something beekeepers look for when they work with their hives. Sometimes, a bad diet will upset a bee’s digestive tract in a manner that’s similar to humans. Bees that eat food that isn’t well balanced will create runny feces in larger quantities than normal.
Is Bee Poop Dangerous?
Bee poop is most likely dangerous to other bees. While foraging, they defecate, which allows other bees to come in contact with the fecal matter. If a bee is sick, this may be a mode of transmitting infection.
Nosema is a common disease that can cause hive failure. It is probably spread through bee fecal matter that’s deposited on frequently visited flowers. One sick bee from one hive may infect a bee from another hive that uses the same flower.
There is no reason to think that bee poop is dangerous to humans. However, if you’re going to come in contact with large quantities of it, it’s not a bad idea to wear proper protective gear so that you aren’t unnecessarily exposing yourself to something that scientists haven’t yet discovered.
Do Queen Bees Poop?
Yes, queen bees poop. While their special diet doesn’t result in much feces, they do pass some. The bees that attend to their every need will clean up and discard waste when it does occur.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Niklas Toelle
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