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Pornhub’s New Horny Bee Campaign Is Part of a Well-Established Cultural Tradition

A bee lands on a large-leaved lupine (lupinus polyphillus) in the bees' garden at the Federal Horticultural Show (Bundesgartenschau) in Heilbronn, southern Germany.
SFW (?)
Thomas Kienzle/Getty Images

Pornhub’s philanthropic arm recently launched another splashy campaign, this time to benefit honeybee conservation efforts. The site’s new BeeSexual channel features videos of bees—like, actual bees, that’s not a euphemism—with titles such as “Pollen squirter gets raided by exotic explorer” and “Mature natural gets plowed by worker bee.” For the next month, Pornhub will donate to Operation Honey Bee and The Center for Honeybee Research according to how many views the videos, which feature voiceover commentary by actual porn stars, receive.

BeeSexual is a very silly initiative that benefits a worthy cause, but it also taps into a weird cultural obsession: the horniness surrounding bees. We literally use the phrase “the birds and the bees” as a euphemism for sex, with the process of pollination acting as a convenient metaphor for squeamish parents who need to explain it to their kids. And that’s not even about sex between bees, which is bizarre in its own right: Male drones basically lose their reproductive organ and die after mating. Then there’s also the fetish known as Melissaphilia, human sexual attraction to bees, which hasn’t been studied or documented enough to know if it’s even real.

What is real, however, is Bee Movie, the Dreamworks animated feature that launched a thousand memes, thanks in part to the relationship between the main characters, a human woman and a nonconformist bee named Barry. “It was never going to be sexual or anything like that. It was purely this friendship… maybe in Barry’s mind he thought… but it was never going to be that,” director Steve Hickner told the New Statesman. “Often we would lose sight of those characters in the room. They would just be Barry and Vanessa, and we would write this dialogue for Barry and Vanessa, and read it over and have to remind ourselves, well, this is a tiny bee saying this, and the tiny bee is fighting with her boyfriend, so let’s dial it back to friend, and make it less romantic, because it’s getting weird.”

Yes, there is graphic fan fiction about the two characters out there for those bold enough to seek it. No, I’m not going to link to it here, because yeesh. Pornhub’s videos are downright chaste in comparison, sticking to the metaphorical bee-flower lovin’ immortalized in so many songs. Don’t take it from me, take it from soul legend Wilson Pickett: “I know when you make love, it’s like the sting of a bee … Bumble bee, c’mon and sting me.” Or take it from bubblegum-pop band Aqua, who for some reason became famous for “Barbie Girl” instead of “Bumble Bees,” which is a bop:

Bumble bee, bump into me

I am in for pollination

Bumble bee, take what you see

I’m in need for your donation

You don’t need no invitation

Wham bam, thank you ma’am

I’m going wham bam, thank you ma’am

I’m a true believer that goes for what I see

And one little flower

Is not enough for a bee like me

Anyway, support Pornhub’s cause if you want to, but know that you’ll forever feel weird about using that one Oprah gif afterwards.