Bee In Your Bonnet

Meaning of “Bee in your Bonnet”

The phrase “bee in your bonnet” means to be obsessed with something or some idea. A person will think endless about it. In other words, it becomes an obsession that is always stuck in one’s mind. This phrase is also applicable when a person also has a song or a phrase replayed over and over in their mind.

Origin of “Bee in your Bonnet”

The phrase “bee in your bonnet” might have originated from some incident involving bees. It has been recorded for the first time in Aeneis by Alexander Douglas published in 1513, such as: “Quhat bern be thou in bed with heid full of beis?”

Later, it appeared in the Letters of Philip Doddridge in 1790, where he has referred it in the same words. “I suppose you have heard of Mr. Coward’s pranks. He has, as the Scotch call it, a Bee in his Bonnet.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Bee in Your Bonnet by Supertramp

I keep on churning away, but pay no mind
You don’t know nothing ‘bout me but that’s alright

I tell you true that I’ll be there and that’s for sure
You got to let me go everywhere, let me through that door
Let me through that door

You say you got a bee in your bonnet
You know for every sting there’s a cure
But don’t you put your finger right on it
You’ll only make it hurt all the more

I doubt if you’ll be liable to read it in the bible
But I ain’t going to say any more

The above lines from the song show the use of this phrase in its third stanza. The singer first tells his beloved that come what may, he is going to be live close to her. As the beloved tells him that he has a bee in his bonnet, he warns him that if she tries to move him away, there will be a sting of these bees, which is hurtful. The meanings of the phrase are clear that the singer is obsessed with the presence of his beloved.

Example #2

My Shoulder You Pat! by Joseph Skipsey

My Shoulder you pat! What would you be at?
A bee’s in your bonnet I think!
Away, goose, away! If Flit-a-Flirt may,
Am I to be had at a wink?
There’s many a youth that picture the truth
As hollow at heart as a pan;
And you – well, take one, you rook, and begone!
But another kiss steal, if you can!

This poem tells about fake encouragement and love. The speaker thinks that the person patting him is either in love or has some thoughts buzzing in his mind. It appears that the speaker is a girl who is very well aware of such flirtations of young men. Therefore, she warns him that his love is just an obsession like a bee in your bonnet.

Example #3

Birdhouse in Your Soul by Alan Winstanley & Clive Langer

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

The title seems to be similar to the phrase “bee in your bonnet” used in the fifth line. The extended metaphor compares the blue canary to love or lover, and birdhouse to a soul. The writers want to encourage the other person to love with passion, in other words, obsession. Love is also a bird that needs a birdhouse to dwell. Hence, the bird, the blue canary, is looking for a place to live in the lover’s soul.

Example #4

A Bee in Ben’s Bonnet by Ferg McKinnon

Ferg McKinnon presents a beautiful story of Ben, who, despite living a good life, has an obsession. It is that he should celebrate his birthday with his large family, and this gives a good story through pictures. The best thing about the book is that it uses popular phrases to give an idea to the reader about their uses. However, the more interesting thing is that the reader learns this phrase when he comes to read this picture story. Obviously, the story is written for the children to teach them different phrases.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: Kate Chopin must have a bee in her bonnet about traditional feminism. Because  she had always written about women.”

Example #2: “He is obsessed with the idea of toping the class like having a bee in his bonnet.”

Example #3: “Karen was obsessed with Despacito song and it was stuck in her head like a bee in the bonnet.”

Example #4: “If you to learn algebra, you have to replay the formulae as much as you can, just like the bee in your bonnet.”

Example #5: “I did not have a bee in my bonnet but the hunger is making me repeat things. I’ll have anything you cooked even from the previous day!”