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any hymenopterous insect of the superfamily Apoidea, including social and solitary species of several families, as the bumblebees, honeybees, etc.
the common honeybee, Apis mellifera.
a community social gathering in order to perform some task, engage in a contest, etc.:
a sewing bee; a spelling bee; a husking bee.
have a bee in one’s bonnet,

to be obsessed with one idea.
to have eccentric or fanciful ideas or schemes:
Our aunt obviously has a bee in her bonnet, but we’re very fond of her.

put the bee on, Informal. to try to obtain money from, as for a loan or donation:
My brother just put the bee on me for another $10.
the bee’s knees, Older Slang. (especially in the 1920s) a person or thing that is wonderful, great, or marvelous:
Her new roadster is simply the bee’s knees.
Also called bee block. Nautical. a piece of hardwood, bolted to the side of a bowsprit, through which to reeve stays.
Obsolete. a metal ring or bracelet.
Bachelor of Electrical Engineering.
Contemporary Examples

According to the Newtown bee, the couple was in divorce proceedings when Heath went missing.
Newtown, Conn., Struggles With Its Newfound Notoriety Christine Pelisek December 16, 2012

After determining that the bee pollen and mushroom broth were inedible, the “detox” quickly went downhill.
We Were Gwyneth’s GOOP Guinea Pigs Erin Cunningham, Olivia Nuzzi March 29, 2014

Disco lost a legend Sunday when bee Gees co-founder Robin Gibb passed away at 62 after a long battle with liver cancer.
Robin Gibb Dies at 62: Watch the Bee Gees’ Best Moments (VIDEO) Addison Schultz May 20, 2012

If someone put a gun to your head and said, ‘Find the bee Gees in 30 seconds,’ you could do it.
The Stacks: The Inimitable Albert Brooks Caught at the Dawn of His Movie Career Paul Slansky April 12, 2014

Even in recent years, the bee Gees would stay away from technology until they were ready to record.
Robin Gibb Dissed ‘American Idol’ Samantha Marshall May 25, 2012

Historical Examples

With them we sometimes find the lawful owner, the grub-worm of the bee, but stunted and thin with fasting.
Insect Adventures J. Henri Fabre

A bee entered one of the chambers with a prophecy of flowers.
Buds and Bird Voices (From “Mosses From An Old Manse”) Nathaniel Hawthorne

In experiments carried out on animals this immunity to bee poison has been also induced by repeated application of the irritant.
Bacteria in Daily Life Mrs. Percy Frankland

Napoleon withdrew his hand as sharply as if a bee amid the fruit had stung him.
The Boy Life of Napoleon Eugenie Foa

The bee possesses a thousand poetical associations derived from our early conversancy with the Georgics.
A World of Wonders Various

any hymenopterous insect of the superfamily Apoidea, which includes social forms such as the honeybee and solitary forms such as the carpenter bee See also bumblebee, mason bee related adjective apian
busy bee, a person who is industrious or has many things to do
have a bee in one’s bonnet, to be preoccupied or obsessed with an idea
a social gathering for a specific purpose, as to carry out a communal task or hold competitions: quilting bee
See spelling bee
(nautical) a small sheave with one cheek removed and the pulley and other cheek fastened flat to a boom or another spar, used for reeving outhauls or stays
abbreviation (in South Africa)
Black Economic Empowerment: a government policy aimed at encouraging and supporting shareholding by black people

stinging insect, Old English beo “bee,” from Proto-Germanic *bion (cf. Old Norse by, Old High German bia, Middle Dutch bie), possibly from PIE root *bhi- “quiver.” Used metaphorically for “busy worker” since 1530s.

Sense of “meeting of neighbors to unite their labor for the benefit of one of their number,” 1769, American English, probably is from comparison to the social activity of the insect; this was extended to other senses (e.g. spelling bee, first attested 1809; Raising-bee (1814) for building construction; also hanging bee “a lynching”). To have a bee in (one’s) bonnet (1825), said of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.


BEE IN one’s BONNET (mid-1800s+)


Enough narcotic to fill a penny matchbox, a unit used in selling drugs; b
An obsession with something

Related Terms

put the bee on someone, put the bite on someone

[1960s+ Narcotics; fr box]
Bachelor of Electrical Engineering

First mentioned in Deut. 1:44. Swarms of bees, and the danger of their attacks, are mentioned in Ps. 118:12. Samson found a “swarm of bees” in the carcass of a lion he had slain (Judg. 14:8). Wild bees are described as laying up honey in woods and in clefts of rocks (Deut. 32:13; Ps. 81:16). In Isa. 7:18 the “fly” and the “bee” are personifications of the Egyptians and Assyrians, the inveterate enemies of Israel.

In addition to the idiom beginning with


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    Also called Oswego tea. a wildflower, Monarda didyma, of the mint family, having thin, lance-shaped leaves and white, salmon, or intensely red flowers, growing along streams in temperate forests and widely cultivated in gardens. a plant, Melissa officinalis, having broad, opposite, serrated leaves and tight clusters of white, lemon-scented flowers that attract bees. Historical Examples […]

  • Bee beetle

    a European beetle, Trichodes apiarius, which sometimes infests beehives. noun a European beetle, Trichodes apiarius, that is often parasitic in beehives: family Cleridae

  • Bee bird

    any of several birds, as the bee-eaters, that feed on bees.

  • Bee block

    bee2 (def 1).

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