- 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.
Origin of bee1
- 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.
Origin of bee2
Examples from the Web for bees
The Bees Laline Paull (Ecco) This arresting debut novel is a daring dystopian story set in a beehive.The Best Fiction of 2014: Ford, Ferrante, Klay, and More
December 7, 2014
When he struck, Brown wrote, “The bees will begin to swarm.”When Robert E. Lee Met John Brown and Saved the Union
May 15, 2014
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
April 22, 2014
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?
December 22, 2013
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
September 11, 2013
We are for you,—we trees and grass and birds and bees and flowers.A Little Book of Profitable Tales
They were densely crowded aft, and swarmed upon the poop-deck like bees.The Uncommercial Traveller
"We've got the bees working overtime for us," a scout called back.Pee-wee Harris
Percy Keese Fitzhugh
Did they not, at their own church, cluster together like bees, when they saw me enter it?Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)
For her he had robbed the bees' nest that very day, and I had but partaken of the spoil.Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood
- any hymenopterous insect of the superfamily Apoidea, which includes social forms such as the honeybee and solitary forms such as the carpenter beeSee 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 competitionsquilting 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
- Black Economic Empowerment: a government policy aimed at encouraging and supporting shareholding by black people
Word Origin and History for bees
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.