“little birds and insects” [COPP]
There are some elements of Victorian society which were never spoken of. At least not in polite society and certainly not in public.
The euphemism "the birds and the bees" has long been used to refer to one such topic. And it's likely that Holmes and Watson would have heard of it in their childhood, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge referred to the creatures in his collection "Work Without Hope" in 1825:
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.
Thankfully we never have to endure this talk in the Canon, as Watson was well-informed in this regard. He had, after all, "an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents."
What might we make of Sherlock Holmes's retirement hobby of beekeeping?
Perhaps all of this got started at Baker Street Elementary...
Baker Street Elementary follows the original adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as they and their friends work through the issues of elementary school in Victorian London. An archive of all previous episodes can be viewed at www.bakerstreetelementary.org.