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What Are These Yellow Spots On My Windows

Can’t figure out what those yellow spots are?

Cleaning bee poop

I had a hard time too. Most window cleaners among themselves call it “bee pollen”, and while its partially true, that isn’t quite the whole story.

If you live in California, you’re certain to have noticed the numerous yellow-gold dots all over your car, windows, house siding and just about every surface outside. Especially here in San Diego, certain parts of the county such as La Jolla, up on Mount Soledad, have some homes that just get hammered with this stuff. On their cars, everywhere!

If you live here, you know exactly the spots I mean. During certain times of the year the dots appear in greater numbers and no matter where you park, you end up getting these on your car every day. They are also difficult to get off your car and windows; they seem to appear out of nowhere and dry hard almost instantly. Those dang mystery yellow-gold dots!

Like so many, I wondered what these mystery dots where. Since I see them all the time cleaning windows, I always assumed it was pollen. At first I thought it may be something from the planes overhead. I worked very close to the San Diego airport, so my first attempt to solve this mystery was to call them. I asked if someone could come look at the spots and tell me if they are coming from airplanes that fly overhead. In less then 10 minutes there was a representative from the airport in the lobby downstairs; talk about great customer service.

After a quick examination it was easy to determine the spots were not from airplanes. Turns out that planes have unique colors for every fluid so that any leaks can be quickly isolated. I thanked the representative and continued on my quest to solve this mystery.

One of the things I noticed was that these spots appear in greater numbers frequently on the West side more than any other area of a building, and if the home or building is on a bluff or in a canyon at the top of a canyon, usually on the side that faces the down slope of the canyon. I continued to try and find the source but everything came up a dead end. I contacted county officials to determine if it was a pesticide or other chemical being carried by the wind  still no answers to this mystery.

Then finally in November, a co-worker pointed out an article that appeared in the LA Times. I wasn’t alone in my quest to find the cause of these mystery yellow-gold dots. An LA Times columnist named Ralph Vartabedian was on the same quest and he utilized more professional resources to solve this mystery. He had the dots analyzed by the agency that manages air quality in California and was able to solve this mystery!

Bee pollen or Bee poop

Cleaning Bee Poop

So what are those yellow-gold dots? In two words, bee poop. Yes, bees do poop and when you live in an area with LOTS and LOTS of bees, youl find these yellow-gold dots of the digested pollen the bees eat on pretty much everything that isnt covered. Bees follow the same route (or flight plan) over and over when traveling to and from their hives, so some places get hit more than others.

Armed with this information I then needed to determine if these bee droppings were bad for my cars paint & finish, or for my customers paint jobs of their homes. After some research, it turns out that while these spots are difficult to remove (get them wet and let them soak to ease removal) they are not dangerous to a cars paint unless its left on the paint for a long time.

So now the mystery is solved! These mystery yellow-gold spots are the waste droppings of bees. Want to avoid getting them on your car or windows? Well, the only ways are to either not cross the bees flight path, or to park your car within 200 feet of the bees hive. Yeah,I think I’ll live with the yellow spots.

Meanwhile, many of our customers have to deal with this problem and I am given the task of figuring out the most cost efficient means of removing them both for the customer and for our company.

We tried using the pressure washer. Tried using different soaps. Different abrasive scrubbers. Nothing worked.

What did work, and was surprisingly easy, was using pure water to clean with and a waterfed pole. Bingo. Now we have a method to take these spots off, and it only costs a tad more than it would for a typical window cleaning! Unfortunately for the homeowner, to do it themselves would require a significant investment to buy these tools.

**Update February 28, 2013

We’ve found something even better. quicker and more efficient.  Grade 0000 steel wool used to scrub on wet glass gets off faster then waterfed poles


So, if you are reading this article and are not a professional window cleaner, ask your service provider if they use pure water cleaning. They should be able to take care of this problem for you. If you would like to make that investment and do it yourself, please give me a call (619)779-5858 and  I can walk you thru the process.

Happy window cleaning!