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A cleansing flight is when the bees fly outside to poop and “cleanse” their systems. Sounds fun, huh?
I’ve written a blog on bee poop before, but this is a little different. I wanted to evaluate the behavior of cleansing flights a little deeper and talk about why the bees do this.
Bees go on cleansing flights for the same reason we had outhouses and designed indoor plumbing – so they aren’t living in pile of their own, literal, filth.
We also refer to cleansing flights when the bees are doing the normal hive cleaning. On a normal, fly-worthy day (approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit or more) the bees will leave the hive to use the restroom outside. They will also bring other debris from inside the hive out and drop it outside the hive. This can include dead bees, dirt, or any other foreign object.
In cooler climates, the bees are stuck inside for longer time periods and can only come out for cleansing flights when the weather allows. In these cases, beekeepers will see yellow spots of bee poop everywhere from where the bees were finally able to relive themselves.
The fact that the bees take such good care of the cleanliness of their hive is not a super surprising fact when you take into account how complex they are in general, but it’s certainly a fact worth noting.