Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several winged, hairy-bodied, usually stinging insects of the superfamily Apoidea in the order Hymenoptera, including both solitary and social species and characterized by sucking and chewing mouthparts for gathering nectar and pollen.
  • n. A bumblebee.
  • n. A honeybee.
  • n. A social gathering where people combine work, competition, and amusement: a quilting bee.
  • idiom a bee in (one's) bonnet An impulsive, often eccentric turn of mind; a notion.
  • idiom a bee in (one's) bonnet An obsession.
  • n. Nautical A bee block.
  • n. The letter b.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flying insect, of the superfamily Apoidea, known for their organised societies, for collecting pollen, and producing wax and honey.
  • n. A contest, especially for spelling; see spelling bee.
  • n. A gathering for a specific purpose, e.g. a sewing bee or a quilting bee.
  • n. A ring or torque; a bracelet.
  • v. Archaic spelling of be.
  • n. The name of the Latin script letter B/b.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • p. p. of be; -- used for been.
  • n. An insect of the order Hymenoptera, and family Apidæ (the honeybees), or family Andrenidæ (the solitary bees.) See honeybee.
  • n. A neighborly gathering of people who engage in united labor for the benefit of an individual or family.
  • n. Pieces of hard wood bolted to the sides of the bowsprit, to reeve the fore-topmast stays through; -- called also bee blocks.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An insect of the genus Apis; a hive-bee or honey-bee. See Apis.
  • n. Any aculeate hymenopterous insect of the division Mellifera or Anthophila, comprising the families Apidœ and Andrenidœ, and including, besides the hive-bees of the genus Apis, the mason-bees, carpenter-bees, bumblebees, etc. See cuts under Anthophora, carpenter-bee, and Hymenoptera.
  • n. An assemblage of persons who meet to engage in united labor for the benefit of an individual or a family, or in some joint amusement: so called from the combined labor of the bees of a hive: as, a quilting-bee, a husking-bee, a spelling-bee, etc.
  • n. To be restless or uneasy.
  • n. To be somewhat crazy.
  • n. A ring of metal, usually an ornament for the arm or neck; a collar or brooch; sometimes, a finger-ring.
  • n. Nautical, a ring or hoop of metal through which to reeve stays. See bee-block.
  • n. [capitalized] In astronomy, the constellation generally called Apis or Musca.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of numerous hairy-bodied insects including social and solitary species
  • n. a social gathering to carry out some communal task or to hold competitions

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English bēo; see bhei- in Indo-European roots. Sense 2, perhaps alteration of dialectal bean, voluntary help given to a farmer by his neighbors, from Middle English bene, extra service by a tenant to his lord, from Old English bēn, prayer; see bhā-2 in Indo-European roots.
Middle English be, a ring, from Old English bēag; see bheug- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Possibly from dialectal English bene, been, bean ("help given by neighbours"), from Middle English been, bene ("neighbourly help, prayer, petition, request, extra service given by a tenant to his lord"),[2] from Old English bēn ("prayer, request, petition, favour, compulsory service") from Proto-Germanic *bōniz (“prayer, request, supplication”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhā- (“to say, speak”). Cognate with Danish bøn ("prayer"), Dutch ban ("curse"), German Bann ("ban"). More at ban. (Wiktionary)
(Northern development of) Old English bēah. (Wiktionary)
Variant spellings. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • "My grandfather kept bees, five nests of them. They didn't come out for two days, not a single one. They just stayed in their nests. They were waiting. My grandfather didn't know about the explosion, he was running all over the yard: what is this? What's going on? Something's happened to nature. And their system, as our neighbor told us, he's a teacher, it's better than ours, better tuned, because they heard it right away. The radio wasn't saying anything, and the papers weren't either, but the bees knew. They came out on the third day." --from Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Keith Gessen

    September 17, 2011

  • Nectar inspector?

    October 18, 2009

  • BEES: Latin apes, from which the word apiary is derived. The Romans believed that bees are born from the carcasses of oxen: to create them the flesh of slain calves is beaten so from the decayed gore worms are born which grow into bees. If irritated, the same bees have a poison which they spread in their honey. Demokritas is cited with Virgil and Mago for effecting the generation of bees from bullocks' corpses. The Book of Albertus Magnus claims that drowning bees and flies may be revived if placed in warm ashes of pennyroyal.

    The Lydian goddess Artemis of Ephesos was served by a college of priestesses called melissae, "the bees".

    The Greeks also believed that bees came from dead oxen and could be raised by killing an ox and leaving it in a sealed room for thirty-two days. This story persisted for hundreds of years; directions for producing bees this way were last published as late as 1842. Until 1609, when an English beekeeper observed a queen laying eggs, queens were believed to be "kings" who ruled over their hives; Virgil wrote that bees collected their young from leaves and sweet plants; Xenophon called the queen the housewife of her hive, its guiding brain. The Dutchman Swammerdam thought that queens were fertilized by an "odoriferous effluvia" produced like an exhalation of perfume from drones. The Roman scholar Varo wrote that diarrhea in bees could be cured by giving them urine to drink and that bees gathered wax from flowers. Piny the Elder wrote that bees could be slain by echoes. It was widely believed that the sound of clashing cymbals caused bees to swarm.

    News bees: in Appalachian folklore, "news bees" appeared as omens to those wise enough to read them: there were yellow news bees, which meant that good things were in the offing, and black news bees which warned of imminent death. The black news bees would fly in the windows and out again, and fly straight for the nearest cemetery; they would hover making a sound like a human being talking.

    Carpenter bees: English naturalists in the nineteenth century distinguished three kinds of architectural bees: carpenter-bees, which worked in wood, mason-bees which worked in stone, and mining-bees which work underground. They said the carpenter-bee - in particular one kind named the violet carpenter-bee for the beauty of its wings - chose dry wood just beginning to decay for a nest; it would gnaw the wood away bit by bit, digging a tunnel, and then turn perpendicularly and construct a gallery. One naturalist sawed open a log of baywood and discovered a gallery eight feet long containing a honeycomb; others described the bee storing pollen to feed its young, laying an egg, and sealing the egg-chamber with a thin wall of clay before beginning another egg-chamber. The violet bee, they said, laid an egg, covered it with a paste of honey and pollen, and laid over this a cover of wooden chips and sawdust laid in concentric circles and cemented with a glue of her own devising.

    January 12, 2009

  • Occasional bonnet occupant?

    July 19, 2008

  • as in "spelling"

    September 10, 2007