The Birds and the Bees

Meanings of “The Birds and The Bees”

The phrase “the birds and the bees” is a concept that deals with mechanics and facts concerning human reproduction. The phrase generally used when parents give tough talks to their children about physical intimacy once they reach puberty.

Origin of “The Birds and The Bees”

The phrase “the birds and the bees” seems to be an ancient metaphor without an ambiguity around its origin. However, it was first satirized in The Simpson’s Cartoon Show in 1995, in which ten-year-old Simpson touches the concept in a joyous mood. Earlier Samuel Taylor Coleridge used this concept in 1825, in his poem, “Work without Hope” as given in the following lines:

“All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair –
The bees are stirring – birds are on the wing –
And Winter, slumbering in the open air.”

Since then, it has been used in almost the same sense but in different words.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Work without Hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.”

This stanza describes the importance of being hopeful and ambitious. The speaker, present in an undefined natural environment, observes the wonders of nature around him. He notices that plants, birds, and bees are striving for their goals. In contrast to their vibrant and ever-changing life, the speaker observes his own action. He feels that he is the only one who is not contributing to nature. Although the phrase is not cited in exact words, it presents in a metaphorical sense.

Example #2

Let’s Do It by Ella Fitzgerald

Now if the birds and the bees and the trees do it
The monkeys and the birds, bees do it
In, in water gates they quarrel but they do it
And if they can make up and still do it baby, how about me and you?
Hey let’s do it now
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”

The lyric explains the meanings of this phrase as the speaker comments that everything in the universe including humans, birds, bees, and animals embraces love. She quotes various examples of places and people how they sing the glory of love as if it is a common phenomenon that is adored equally by both; human beings and animals. Therefore, she urges her beloved to join the chorus. She also wants to taste the fruits of love and intimacy. The meaning of the phrase is literal.

Example #3

Let’s Talk About the Birds and the Bees by Molly Potter

Let’s Talk about the Birds and the Bees’ attempts to describe the questions young children often ask about their existence. To add to their curiosity, the writer takes up the daunting task of answering their queries, so that they easily absorb the concept of puberty, sex, relationships, and reproduction. It is through simple language that the writer tries to answer the question related to this sensitive subject. Moreover, the fanciful illustrations and pieces of advice for the parents make it easy to explain the truths about their bodies to small children.

Example #4

The Birds and the Bees by Michele Shulman

“All nature seems at work … The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing … and I the while, the sole unbusy thing, not honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.’
My fingers can’t trace the origin of the age old euphemism
Its roots planted firmly in childhood paired with sitcom clichés
A conversation never had with my mother

I learned the moment he touched me
My mind buzzed as the sweetest nectar kissed my lips
Arms turned to wings and we flew away

The age of fourteen
A baby learning where babies come from
Innocence poured out like an overfilled glass of milk.”

This poem sheds light on the literal meaning and uncertain origin of the phrase. The speaker notices how the cycle of nature works and all the creatures are busy except the speaker. He says that he never talks about sex and reproduction with his parents, yet with the passage of time, he learned where babies come from. This learning makes him think of the stories people use to tell when a lady gets pregnant. Therefore, it seems that he has tried to explain it, using an extended metaphor.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “At 16, Ian remembered that he had his first talk about the birds and the bees with his father.”

Example #2: “I feel that the birds and the bees discussion with elders are so awful that I pray the topic never comes up again.”

Example #3: “Like many other children, Suzy also hesitated to talk about the birds and the bees. She silently left the room and went out for a walk.”

Example #4: “Whether it’s talking about the social discussion, or the birds and the bees, every teenager must be aware of these things as they grow up, along with the necessary precautions.”

Example #5: “Tom was really worried about the mechanics of reproduction, so his brother had to give him the birds and the bees talk yesterday.”