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Mischievous proliferous: the scoop on bee poop

Okay, Mischievous proliferous is not an official name for anything, but it’s the name given to honey bees by my husband. It is loosely translated as “many troublemakers.” The problem he sees with honey bees in not the stinging or the intimidating flybys, but the prolific drops of feces that cover just about everything for six months of the year.

The hardest hit objects of male affection, of course, are vehicles. The second is skylights. As I explained in an earlier post, he believes that bees are like birds. They don’t just drop a load whenever they please but seek shiny objects as targets—like a game. Shiny objects include newly washed cars, shimmering swimming pools, snow white lawn furniture, and freshly painted fences.

Living under bees

Even I have to admit it can get pretty bad around here. When the skylights no longer admit sunlight—and you can no longer see the hood of the car from the driver’s seat—you are more or less forced to do something. Last month we had a guest from Seattle who suddenly looked into the sky, then thrust his hand in front of me. “Is that bee stuff?” he asked, amazed. “I thought it was raining.”

I winced when I saw the sticky yellow splotch of the back of his hand. It was time to smile and offer honey.

After years of experience, my husband is now the self-proclaimed world authority on removing bee poop from cars and skylights. After trying high-end car washes and pressure washers that didn’t work, he settled on the “pre-soak” as the very best method.

The bee poop pre-soak

You can hose down the objects a few minutes before you plan to wash them or—if you want to skip this step—you can commence the wash after a rainstorm or early in the day after a heavy morning dew. After they have soaked, it is possible to remove them with soap and water or a pressure washer.

To make the job easier next time, keep the vehicles waxed. While the pollen stains yellow, it eventually comes off. But other bio-chemicals from the honey bee digestive tract may damage the surface of certain objects if they are not cleaned regularly.

Oh, yes . . . there’s one more thing. By the time you get completely around your car, it will be time to start over again. If you want your work to last more than about ten minutes, do it in the dead of night or the dead of winter.

Honey Bee Suite

What is the real scoop on bee poop?

Mischievous proliferous. I think they know what they are doing. Flickr photo by beesinfrance.

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  • Hi,

    I have a guest house in Franschhoek, South Africa. We do our own laundry and have a problem with bee poop stains on the washing, as there is a field close by with about a 100 hives. The poop stains the washing a yellow/orange colour. Any suggestions as to how to remove these stains?


    • John,

      Wow, that’s a lot of bees. Honestly, I don’t know of a way to remove the stains. Could you build a covered laundry area? Could you ask the beekeeper to help you with the project? I don’t know anything about your laws, but it seems the beekeeper must have some responsibility for the damage. Have you discussed it with him?

      I will ask my readers if anyone has an idea for removing the stains, but I think preventing them would be more effective than removing them.

  • Let me tell you, bee poop is not a joke; it comes from seemingly nowhere yet it is also everywhere. I live in Oregon and I never EVER noticed bee poop anywhere on any car, until of course I bought a shiny car of my own; or as the bees call it – the only toilet for the next 10 miles so you better “go” right now, on that shiny clean thing.

    Sometimes it is firm and won’t come off. I use a store-bought frilled leather knot to remove them. If you ask the car wash employees they’ll repeat the theory that it probably is simply insect poop, most likely from bees.

    I have not seen a bee in months; for a daytime faring noisy insect I’m impressed that they manage to remain hidden yet also poop obsessively on my car. I suppose I do park near a bunch of flowers on a daily basis but I’ve done little tests of my own and noticed that it will happen even if I park it elsewhere exclusively. I would park in my garage if I had a door opener and the space & I’m sure that would not yield any yellow pollen spots and support the theory that it is in fact bee/insect poop.

  • Like everyone else I wondered where the yellow spots were coming from. I wondered if it was pollen. To remove them I usually use the liquid spray on waxes and one of the microfiber towels, spray and buff repeatedly. Eventually it comes off. But like the birds, the bees really do seem to aim for nice shiny cars that I’ve just waxed and polished. This makes is tough when the car spends so much time outside parked at office buildings or stores. I’ve read that insects, like bees, see in ultraviolet. It could be that very shiny cars also reflect more ultraviolet, exciting the insects. If these car wax companies could develop a wax and polish that doesn’t reflect the UV but regular sunlight, who knows if that’s even possible, that could solve the problem.

  • I have discovered that using fabric softener sheets will remove “love bugs” off the windshield and grill of our cars when nothing else seemed to work. “Love bugs” have an acid or something that will ruin the finish of your car if not washed off in a timely manner. If fabric oftener sheets work for “love bugs”, I don’t know why they wouldn’t work for bees. We have 2 hives, but I have never noticed bee poop being a problem on anything. Hope this helps.

  • While I haven’t noticed bee poop on my car, maybe because I don’t wash it as often as I should, I have noticed it all over the front of my house. I noticed in an ealier comment about bees seeing in ultraviolet, so this leaves me with two questions:
    1. What is the best way to remove/wash the biproduct off of my siding?
    2. Is there a color I can paint my house to make it less attractive to the bees?

    • Gwen,

      Everything around here has bee poop on it, so I’ve tried getting it off various surfaces. I’ve been most successful by soaking it with water. So on your siding, I recommend hosing it down and keeping it wet for say 20 minutes to a half hour, being careful not to let it dry. That seems to rehydrate it, and once it’s wet it comes off fairly easily. If it’s really baked on by the sun, it may take longer.

      I don’t think the bees are attracted to the color of your home. I think they are just flying over it. If the bees are flying, say, 15 miles per hour when they drop their bi-product, it is also going 15 miles an hour. So it falls not straight down, but in an arc. It is that forward motion that allows the bi-product to land on the side of your house. I don’t think color has anything to do with it.

      I get the feeling you don’t have bees, but surely someone near you does if that many parcels are landing on your house.

  • John Sadd,

    I think I can tell you how to remove the stains. You decide if the clothes are worth the expense. I will agree that prevention is the thing you are needing. Build a barn and use fiberglass panels in the top. Install plenty of ventilation to remove the moisture. Put your clotheslines inside. My wife has a genetic vascular disorder so she has nose bleeds and places on her fingers that will bleed at a moments notice. This gets blood on her clothes, the bed etc. We have a friend that owns a dry cleaners. He said blood is the easiest thing in the world to remove. He sold us a gallon of Blood Scram. It cost us about $20. You just moisten the bloody place with the Blood Scram and toss it in the washing machine. It comes out with the blood gone. It will work on food stains and all protein-based stains. It will not usually work well on old stains that have been washed and dried because this sets the stain. The blood can be dry for months as long as it has not been laundered and dried. BTW the cost of the Blood Scram has more than doubled and is up to about $50 a gallon but it doesn’t take long to recover that in clothing costs. Good Luck.

  • UV light is part of sunlight. Also to make a wax that doesn’t reflect uv light is bad for your car (if it’s not reflecting it’s absorbing). They literally make car paint to reflect uv light so it lasts longer. You just gotta bite the bullet and use spray detailer to fend off the poo.

  • As a 50 year old woman, I have never thought about bee poo, however, this year my mother’s beloved bird nest box has been invaded by bees. The box is situated just above the French doors in the lounge, wonderful for watching blue tits, but a bit concerning (unfounded) when there’s around 50 bees dancing around the entrance! I was intrigued about some small (1mm long) yellowish “splats” on the window glass and a build up of the same substance on the front of the box, that set me wondering if bees do, in fact, poo. So, I Googled the question and thanks to comments posted above, I now know my mother has a bee bog right outside her French doors! Priceless, thanks for the knowledge.

  • I bought a fabric car cover. I’m sure I disappoint people who think there’s something much fancier under there than my 10 yr old Subaru, but it beats going to the car wash every few days in the summer. I save the car wash budget for the winter when I need to get the salt off.

  • Hello , today I saw a bee in the act of pooing.

    We love in an upper flat (apartment) in South Wales, UK, and seem to have bees in the cavity between the ceiling and the roof. The bees appear from somewhere and make a beeline (sorry) for the skylight, where they founder and clatter for ages. This morning, one must have got caught under my wife’s leg as she rolled over in her sleep, because it stung her. In the aftermath we were all eyes, and it was at that point that I saw it, like a slo-mo of a stuka dropping a bomb. Normally it covers the bottom right corner of my bed and bedding everyday.

    P. S. Does anyone know how to get rid of them from our of my roof/life?

    Kind regards, David

    • David,

      Sounds serious to me. Have you talked to the landlord or owner of the building? It sounds like something a local beekeeper is unlikely to tackle.

  • Baby wipes work really well to remove bee poop from your car. It’s safe on the paint as it lubricates while it removes the poop. Try it….and you will be amazed how easy it comes off.

  • Gary Wolfe-

    THANK YOU for the baby wipe suggestion. I have a black car, and my car was quite dotted with mustard yellow spots (bee poop). I bought some name brand baby wipes at the 99C Only store and tested the vertical part of the trunk and low and behold, it worked like a charm, and the paint was unharmed. Some spots just took some work and patience. I will finish up the job in the cool of the early morning. So Ca is hot and sunny today. What a great suggestion. Can’t THANK YOU enough.

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