Do Bees Poo?
Every household has rules, be that, leaving your shoes at the front door or putting the lid down after flushing the toilet. But would you have ever thought that bee hives have their own etiquette when it comes to dirt, refuse and life’s more discrete activities?
The answer of course is, yes! Bees are are very hygienic insects and have rules for keeping their home clean and orderly. But this begs the question, do bees actually poo? Although the humble bee does not wee (how’s that for poetry), bees do, however, poo! And, so, there are rules in the bee world that keep this activity under control, in order to maintain the pristine home life bees have come to enjoy. The main house rule is: no defecating inside the hive. Bees contain a digestive tract and the food they eat breaks down within their stomach and needs to pass. Unlike meat eating animals, the poo of bees is not stinky or offensive at all and basically resembles watered down pollen with a mild sweet smell; closer to roses than that dog poo you accidentally stepped in yesterday! Perhaps we have come to expect no less from our favorite insects, and, as the saying goes, their poo really doesn’t stink. Time between excrements varies, with bees defecating usually several times a week outside the hive. And just like the trials of using a backyard dunnie in winter, bees will refrain from going to the toilet if the weather is cold and unpleasant. This makes for a real sight, seeing thousands of bees flying out of their hives on the first sunny day for some time, in a kind of mass-poo-flight! This is often seen on the first fine day after winter.
However, like all of us, there are slip ups sometimes. The only time bees will defecate inside the hive is when they have eaten something that does not agree with their tiny, delicate stomachs. This might include when fruit is eaten during dearth conditions, after the consumption of fermented honey or sugar syrup, or in the instance that they are unwell after having contracted a disease call nosema. It is easy to spot this problem in your hive, as there will be elongated dysentery smear marks on and around the hive.
So to answer the question on everyone’s lips, yes, bees do poo; however, they are very clean, polite and hygienic animals and will groom themselves and each other like cats to maintain their pristine yellow fur coats. Pooing outside the hive is very important to the hygiene of the hive, so next time you see a miniscule orange mark on your car it’s most likely the lucky symbol of a sweet-smelling bee poo!