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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.
Contemporary Examples

Burt called on his beekeeper pal, who scooped up the bees from the fencepost with his bare hands, and dumped them into a hive.
Burt’s Bees Co-Founder Burt Shavitz on the Doc ‘Burt’s Buzz,’ and Losing Millions Marlow Stern September 10, 2013

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated flees do it—thousands and thousands and thousands of times a day.
How to Hitchhike a Plane—and Survive Kent Sepkowitz April 21, 2014

The honey yield is also diminishing, with bees producing less honey than they have in previous years, according to USDA data.
Declining bee populations may lead to significant agricultural losses in U.S. Miranda Green May 7, 2013

One Libyan intelligence source has likened it to a “swarm of bees” accepting a new queen bee.
Benghazi Suicide Bombing: Is Libya al Qaeda’s New Hotbed? Jamie Dettmer December 21, 2013

When he struck, Brown wrote, “The bees will begin to swarm.”
When Robert E. Lee Met John Brown and Saved the Union Michael Korda May 14, 2014

Historical Examples

I’ll go back to my frogs and toads and leeches, and spiders and wasps and bees.
A Modern Tomboy L. T. Meade

“We’ve got the bees working overtime for us,” a scout called back.
Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh

We ‘aint got no bees;’ and with that he took one of his tremendous pinches of snuff.
I’ve Been Thinking; Azel Stevens Roe

For her he had robbed the bees’ nest that very day, and I had but partaken of the spoil.
Ranald Bannerman’s Boyhood George MacDonald

At last he said to himself: ‘Men are sociable creatures, like bees or ants.
The Brown Fairy Book Andrew Lang

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.

Related Terms

the birds and the bees


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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