Last Updated on May 5, 2022
We are a funny species. Especially when it comes to poop. Something about poop entertains us and scares us. On the topic of bees, I often get asked “What does bee poop look like?” Bee poop is actually an incredible resource and if you understand how and where bees poop, you can use this knowledge to improve the quality of your garden.
What Is Bee Poop?
Bees eat pollen as a source of protein, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. After they have digested the pollen and absorbed the nutrients, whatever is left needs to be got rid of. If the bees poop in the hive it would soon become a big stinky mess, so the bees fly out of the hive on “evacuation/cleansing” flights. In other words, they go out to have a poop.
Bee Poop: A Description Of What It Looks Like
What does bee poop look like? You have probably found those little yellow dots on your window, or vehicle windscreen and wondered what is this little yellow dot? That is bee poop. Depending on what pollen the bees have been collecting the color of the “yellow dot” varies. It can actually be orange or even black depending on the source of pollen. Most often the dot is however yellow.
What does bee poop look like? Here you can see a bee splatter on my window. Those yellow dots. Terrible things and they are difficult to clean off the window. If the bees get a runny tummy (from Nosema) then the splats are even worse!!
Bee Poop: What Does It Smell Like?
Bee poop stinks. It smells a bit like yogurt and a bit like a dog that has released gas. It is just not a good smell. I have on a few occasions had a bee poop land squarely on my nose forcing me to smell this. It is just not a good smell. This is however only something that stinks when you are very close to it – for instance if it lands on your nose.
Where Do Bees Go To Poop?
Bees are very hygienic animals – they poop outside the hive. This will depend on the air temperature, but generally, they will poop about 50 yards or more from the entrance of the hive. When young bees go out to orientate and learn to fly they will often go on a “cleansing flight” and fly a certain distance away from the hive and then let out a few yellow drops and return to the hive.
Has Bee Poop Got Anything To Do With Honey?
I once had somebody ask me this rather weird question “Is honey the bee’s poop?” The answer is a firm no!! Bees collect nectar which is a sugar solution that is concentrated into honey. Bees collect pollen, which they digest and use as a nutrient source to make more bees and wax.
Bee poop is in no way honey – it is the stuff that could not be used by the beehive. This is much like a human – you are what you eat. You absorb your nutrients from food – everything that is “not you” leaves your body as poop. (This does not mean there are not people/politicians out there who you would think use poop in their brains, but that is not a topic for discussion here.)
Bee Poop Is Probably One Of The Most Valuable Things Bees Produce – Let’s See Why.
If we look at a beehive it has certain outputs that it produces. We always think of honey, but in order of importance, the most important output of a beehive to us as humans is pollination. Bees pollinate crops and wildflowers that produce nutrients and provide ecosystem services to us and the rest of the planet that has to try and live with us.
How Far Do Bees Fly To Get Pollen?
Bees can fly over 4 miles to collect pollen! This means that a beehive covers an area of about 50 square miles collecting pollen. If we think about this, it means that bees cover 50 square miles, collecting pollen and then bringing this back to the hive. Here they digest and then poop the pollen out in an area of about an acre around the hive. In other words, they concentrate pollen from 32 000 acres into one acre. What does this mean for your acre surrounding the hive?
Is Bee Poop Good Manure For My Garden/Farm?
Bee poop is one of the best manures that honey can buy!! It is in fact far better manure than cow, sheep, chicken, or pig manure!! And best of all, bee manure does not carry any worm eggs or cysts that can infect you and make you sick.
How Much Bee Manure Does A Hive Produce?
This is a question that is relatively difficult to answer. It is a bit like asking how much poop does a person produce? There will be a big difference between say how much an NFL player produces compared to a 5-year-old child. So let us just use a few published examples and work from there. This paper works on about 50kg/110lb of pollen per hive per year. Other papers suggest half this. It is clearly a case-by-case basis thing, but let us work on the above figure as a published average.
We must also remember that dead bees are discarded in the same radius as that within which bees poop. This means that essentially the entire nutritional load in the 110lb of pollen harvested by a hive is deposited in the acre surrounding the hive!!
Pollen contains about 27% protein, meaning the bees are bringing about 21 lb of nitrogen to your acre per year based on this analysis. If we look at this recommendation on nitrogen addition per acre of high output pasture, it means that 8 hives in the center of an acre of pasture would provide more than enough nitrogen to ensure the highest level of productivity. Next time somebody asks you “what does bee poop look like?” tell them it looks like a free bag of NPK fertilizer that gets spread over your garden or farm.
How Many Beehives Would I Need To Ensure That An Acre Has Enough Bee Poop Manure To Be Highly Productive?
Beehives will also provide a significant percentage of the potassium and phosphate requirements of an intensive pasture of vegetable garden per annum. Based on the mineral compositions reported in this paper you can calculate how many hives you would need in order for bee poop to meet your potassium and phosphate requirements for an acre. But suffice it to say that an apiary of 10-15 hives will provide sufficient Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (NPK) to ensure a high level of productivity for your acre of land surrounding that apiary.
Do People Use Bees On Farms For Bee Poop Manure?
It is not common in the western world, but in the East, specifically in India, bee trees are planted in the middle of rice paddies. These teak trees get covered in Apis dorsata colonies which produce a huge amount of poop at sunset every day. It is rather amusing to watch somebody standing in the poop zone at sunset watching with awe as the hundreds of thousands of giant bees roar into the evening air….and then the yellow rain!!
Given the impending fertilizer shortages which are expected globally due to geopolitical turmoil, it is a good idea to think about whether a few beehives dotted here and there on your land can allow you to be independent of commercial fertilizer additions.
What does bee poop look like? Well there you have it – bee poop is the explanation for those little yellow dots on your windshield. Bee poop is an amazing manure/fertilizer, and it adds value to your land that way exceeds the value of honey you will extract!! Share this please so we can get people thinking about how to use bee poop to make their farms and gardens more productive.
Read more about: Do Bees Know They Die When They Sting?
Where do bees poop?
They fly out of the hive and poop about 50 or more yards away from the hive. This poop is great fertilizer!
Is honey the bee’s poop?
No. Honey is concentrated nectar and is delicious to eat. Bee poop is digested pollen and stinks.
Is bee poop toxic?
No. But it is not a good idea to eat it. It smells bad and has no real nutritional benefit for us. It may be a source of some beneficial bacteria, but it may also contain bad bacteria. As with any poop, rather do not eat it.
What does bee poop look like?
It is a yellow liquid with the consistency of mayonnaise. If you have seen little yellow dots on your window or windshield and wondered what they were - that is probably bee poop.
Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.