As Busy As a Bee

Meaning:

Having a lot of work to do; someone who is busy.

Example: Walt was invited to go swimming on Friday, but he politely declined the offer because he had a lot of errands to do that day. Yes, Walt is going to be as busy as a bee come Friday.

In other words, he’s got a lot to do on Friday.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
having a lot on (your) plate, spreading (yourself) too thin, busy bee
A busy bee flying.
This bee is buzz-y. Don’t bug him!

The Origin of ‘As Busy As a Bee’

This phrase likely originates from something that bees are known for: being hard workers. Bees are indeed busy little insects. Doing what, you ask?

Pollinating plants, for one! In order to reproduce, many plants actually depend on bees for pollination. How so? For a flower to reproduce, the stamen (the male organ of a flower) has to produce pollen, and then that pollen needs to get to the stigma of the pistil (the female organ of a flower). How does the pollen get there?

Bees! When a bee lands on a flower, the pollen sticks to the hairs of its body. Then, when the bee lands on another flower of the same type, the pollen makes contact with the stigma of the flower, and thus pollination occurs. So while bees are buzzing around from plant to plant, they’re doing quite a bit of work—they are busy bees indeed.

There’s also the part where bees collect nectar (a sugary liquid that flowers produce) and they use that to make honey, and then there is the whole building a hive thing… alright, you get it, they have a lot of work to do.

So how old is this saying? Well, it goes back to at least the 14th century. A man named Geoffrey Chaucer is the author of a book called The Canterbudy Tales, which is believed to have been written between the years 1387 and 1400. In a part of the book titled “The Merchant’s Epilogue,” there is a line that reads:

“In wommen been! for ay as bisy as bees.”


Example Sentences

A couple examples of this idiom being used in sentences. The second example is a shortened form of this phrase:

  1. I should get a good night’s sleep, because I am going to be as busy as a bee tomorrow.
  2. I’m going to be a busy bee this morning.

Tip: For the meaning of more English sayings like this one, just browse the site using the letters at the very top.