The Bee’s Knees

June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here at Be Sweet we love bees. Rather fitting, no?

© Kate Spade

Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants. Bees figure prominently in mythology and have been used by political theorists as a model for human society. Journalist Bee Wilson states that the image of a community of honey bees “occurs from ancient to modern times, in Aristotle and Plato; in Virgil and Seneca; in Erasmus and Shakespeare; Tolstoy, as well as by social theorists Bernard Mandeville and Karl Marx.” Despite the honey bee’s painful sting and the stereotype of insects as pests, bees are generally held in high regard. This is most likely due to their usefulness as pollinators and as producers of honey, their social nature, and their reputation for diligence. Bees are one of the few insects regularly used on advertisements, being used to illustrate honey and foods made with honey (such as Honey Nut Cheerios).

© Kate Spade

More recently, Kate Spade has introduced a new line to her collection called “The Bee’s Knees.” featuring jewelry, sunglasses, sweaters, shows and bags, this collection is indeed the bee’s knees! Check out the full line here.

© Kate Spade

This had me wondering, where did the expression “the bee’s knees” come from? Taken literally it makes no sense (as most expressions do not).  According this link:

A bee’s “corbiculae“, or pollen-baskets, are located on its tibiae (midsegments of its legs – knees).
The phrase “
the bee’s knees,” meaning “the height of excellence,” became popular in the U.S. in the 1920s, along with “the cat’s whiskers” (possibly from the use of these in radio crystal sets), “the cat’s pajamas” (pyjamas were still new enough to be daring), and similar phrases which made less sense and didn’t endure: “the eel’s ankle,” “the elephant’s instep,” “the snake’s hip.”

Stories in circulation about the origin of
The Bee’s Kneesphrase include: “b’s and e’s,” short for “be-alls and end-alls;” and a variation/revision of the term “business.”

Meaning of “The Bee’s Knees”
The Bee’s Knees” is a term indicating excellencethe highest quality.
Because bees carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs. The allusion is to the
concentrated goodness to be found around the bee’s knee.

So there you have it! Now buzz off!


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