Do bees pee?

We all know the feeling of relief once we have that long-held pee in the morning and during the day. We also know that it is necessary to expel the waste products and excess water in the body to keep our kidneys healthy and avoid kidney stones and other life-threatening damage. 

So, it is curious to think if other animals, besides mammals, feel the same way about urinating. Then to think a little bit deeper, how about insects like bees? Do bees also pee, or do they have other ways to excrete liquid waste in their body if they need to?

Bees, like the honeybee, don’t pee per se because they don’t have separate body parts for urine and feces. However, they also have a long digestive system and a way to excrete the waste materials in their body. Although not what we expect to be similar to humans. 

Bees are also anthropods, which means most of their excrement is dry since they need to keep more than 90% of their water in the body to avoid drying out and dying. Though they still excrete a liquid stream, which contains ammonia and uric acid through their Malpighian tubules (the bee’s version of kidneys). The bees may also just void water from the nectar they collected, which may sometimes appear to be urinating.

Now, let us learn more about bees and their peeing or non-peeing actions.

Do bees pee?

bee landing on a flower harvesting nectar

Bees are invertebrates, which means they don’t have a backbone. Instead, they have an exoskeleton or an outer skeleton to protect their internal organs from the outside threat. This also means that their bodies and bodily functions are entirely different from mammals like humans. 

Similar to the various different systems and functions of the human body, bees (and other insects) also commonly have multiple organs that perform a similar role. Think of the excretory system of the body, which is responsible for ensuring that the waste products of the body are expelled and are not retained to avoid poisoning.

In the case of bees, they also have an excretory system. However, it works in ensuring that the waste product is released from the body, just like not through urinating or peeing, which we will learn more about later.

To learn more about bees, you should also read Is killing a bee hive illegal? and Do bees lose color when they die?

How does the excretory system work?

Before we move on to a bee’s more complex body structure, let us first understand the excretory system of the human body and how it works. 

The human excretory system is responsible for removing and expelling the body’s waste products. The major part of this system is the two bean-shaped organs close to the liver called the kidneys. 

The kidney filters our blood to remove the waste product and regulate the body’s water balance through a waste product we call urine or, simply, pee. It is also important to note that having a malfunctioning kidney can be lethal to humans.

The next major part of the excretory system is the urinary tract which filters waste and water from the blood and expels the pee out of the body by emptying our bladders. 

Now that we have an overview of the human excretory system, let us find out if bees also have a similar part and function.

Do bees have kidneys?

bees making honey in a beehive

We now understand that kidneys are an important part of the human body and other vertebrates’ body regulation since they filter the blood to ensure it is clean as it travels throughout the body. However, bees and other insects are invertebrates, so they don’t have the typical kidney we are accustomed to.

Though they don’t have a kidney, they do have an internal organ capable of performing a similar function of expelling waste products from their tiny body. The organ they use to ensure that waste products are excreted and water regulatory functions are fulfilled is called the Malpighian tubule system.

As you’ll recall, bees and other insects don’t have blood. What they do have is a white or yellowish liquid substance called hemolymph, which is often referred to as insect blood. 

So, what happens in the bee’s internal parts is the Malpighian tubule system, which is also part of the bee’s digestive system in the abdomen. 

Also read: Can bees sting through bee suit?

How does the Malpighian tubule system work?

The malpighian tubule is interconnected, and branching tubules are connected and attached to the bee’s gut. They are located in the abdomen and work closely with the bee’s rectum when excreting a waste product in granules, like uric acid and ammonia (common components of urine), and maintaining the water balance of the bee’s body. 

The waste products in the bee’s hemolymph, which also contains uric acid, potassium, and sodium, pass into the tubules, creating a ‘pre-urine,’ which will merge with the digested food while the uric acid precipitates.

However, since bees need plenty of water in their system to avoid drying out, they reabsorb the water that would have been turned into waste back to the body. The typical honeybee larva has four Malpighian tubules, while the adult bees have as many as 100.

These Malpighian tubules may also not be consistent with other bee species. Some may have more, while some may have less. 

What is the “pee” that was once photographed coming out of the bee?

In 2015, a photo was taken by a man who said that he had just witnessed a bee peeing, which made the rounds on social media and other major new sites. However, it was later revealed that it was probably voided water.

After bees gather nectar from flowers full of water, they will start to get heavy, making it harder for them to fly. So what they do is squirt out the excess water that they don’t need, which is what may have been photographed on that day. So, no, the water coming out of the bee is not pee. It was just plain old water.

You should also take a look at Why are bees attracted to me?

Do bees poop?

bees flying into a beehive

We already discussed how bees don’t urinate, mainly because they are invertebrates and anthropods. Though they may look like they are urinating, it is technically not urine because the bees need water to stay alive and not dry out. However, if you’re curious whether bees excrete solid waste, let us learn more.

The bee’s digestive system, like its circulatory system, spans through its body. They also don’t have individual organs that we are accustomed to. Still, they have a long digestive organ traveling from their mouth to their rectum, where they expel their poop, containing some water in their body. Their digestive system comprises three interconnected parts: the foregut, midgut, and hindgut.

The foregut includes the bee’s mouth, esophagus, and honey stomach. The midgut, on the other hand, contains the digested food. Then the hindgut consists of the intestines and the rectum. Bees excrete waste in solid granules, which is their poop.

It is important to note that bees would tend to retain or reabsorb more than 90% of the water that was used by the Malpighian tubules from their waste back into their body. Hence, their feces are commonly slightly wet but may most likely be dry, which may contain solid uric acids, pollen, and other foodstuffs.

Why do bees go to urine?

Bees are somewhat attracted to urine because they may smell minerals and salt that their bodies need. It may also be because of the sweet scent of some people with conditions. Though insects flying toward your urine is not an indicator that you have diabetes or other related health conditions.

It is good to know that bees like the dirty water more than the clean water because they can collect more nutrients than the clean or distilled water that some people serve. This is the process called mud puddling.

This is the behavior of some insects and animals, like butterflies, when they try to find nutrients from other moist sources, like mud, urine, and rotting plants, that are more attractive to them than clean sources.

To expand your bee knowledge, you should also read Can bees see color? and Can a dead bee sting you?


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[4] – Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, August 19). Mud-puddling. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 13, 2022, from 

[5] – Anatomy of the urinary system. Anatomy of the Urinary System | Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2019, November 19). Retrieved November 13, 2022, from 

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