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Make a Beeline For: Origin and Meaning

Go quickly and directly towards something
Carry coals to NewcastleThe phrase derives from the behaviour of honey bees. When a honey bee finds nectar, (the sweet liquid in a flower), it returns to the hive (the bees home) and communicates its location to the other bees, using a display called the Waggle Dance.

The other bees then fly directly to the source of the nectar, so they ‘make a beeline’ for it. This dance is a surprisingly sophisticated means of communication for a creature with such a small brain. The bee performs a short wiggling run – hence the name, with the angle meaning the direction of the nectar-laden flowers and the length of time denoting the distance.

The earliest reference is from The Davenport Daily Leader, January 1808:
“Gustav Stengel Sr., of Rock Island, was thrown from his sleigh on Third Avenue in that city yesterday afternoon, the horse becoming frightened and turning abruptly, ripping the cutter. The horse made a bee line for home.”
– Billy was so hungry that he came into the kitchen and made a beeline for the cookies.

– After the game, we were so tired, we all made a beeline for John, who was serving cold drinks.

– Phil arrived at about nine and made a beeline for the champagne.

– When the train finally arrived, cold and weary travellers made a beeline for it.
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