AskDefine | Define beeline

Dictionary Definition

beeline n : the most direct route; "he made a beeline for the bathroom"

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From bee + line, via the belief that a bee returns to its hive in a straight course.



  1. A very direct or quick path or trip.
    He found the bee tree in the woods by tracking the beeline of several worker bees.
    He walked into the store and made a beeline for the sale rack.''
  2. A dynamite fuse made with a small quantity of dynamite powder along its length, so that the spark travels quickly and at a specific known rate.


  1. To travel in a straight course, ignoring established paths of travel. To take a shortcut.

Extensive Definition

Beelining is an ancient art used to locate feral bee colonies by capturing and marking foraging worker bees, then releasing them from various points to establish (by elementary trigonometry) the direction and distance of the colony's home. Beeliners generally have homemade capture boxes which aid them in their quest.
Beelining was formerly a serious occupation in Appalachia where it was a means to obtain honey as a sweetener, and sometimes to capture wild colonies for domestication. When a hollow tree (gum) was found, it often was sawed above and below the colony and carried back to be set up as a kept hive near home. Honey was harvested from such colonies by "sulphuring," (using burning sulfur) to kill the insects.
Feral hives in the USA are uncommon since the arrival of varroa mites in the 1980s, and may represent an important though small, pool of genetic resistance to the mites, so their value as potential breeding stock may far outweigh any small value, if destroyed for honey.


  • Donovan, Robert E. Hunting Wild Bees, 1980, Winchester Press.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

air line, axis, chord, cut, cutoff, diagonal, diameter, direct line, directrix, edge, great-circle course, normal, perpendicular, radius, radius vector, right line, secant, segment, shortcut, shortest way, side, straight, straight course, straight line, straight stretch, straightaway, streamline, tangent, transversal, vector
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