Bees are intertwined not only directly and indirectly with the food we eat, but also in our vocabulary. Chances are you have either competed in a spelling bee, know someone who has or have seen it in the media. Spelling bees have been around for quite some time, yet few know how our favorite insect, “bee(s)”, became associated with these spelling contests. It is very interesting.
There is some conversation amongst etymologists (not to be confused with entomologists), on the web site Welcome to English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, about the origination. Etymologists study the history, origin and meaning of words. The British dialect for “bee” is “bean” in Middle English, which means “help given by neighbors”. The Scripps National Spelling Bee provided a wealth of information on the topic. The common consensus points to “bee” meaning “social gathering”. Many other activities or “gatherings” had the term “bee” following such as logging bee (1836), and apple bee (1827) and of course the one we all think of, quilting bee.
So the next time you are having a gathering, why not call it a “bee”?!
– Welcome to English Language & Usage Stack Exchange webpage http://english.stackexchange.com
-Scripps National Spelling Bee webpage http://www.spellingbee.com/