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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Bee's Knees--Facts about Bee Swarms

by Joanna Campbell Slan

I couldn't let my "bee encounter" buzz by without doing a wee bee research activity. Here's what I learned:

  • The bees that are dying are domestic honeybees, commercially raised. The colonies are collapsing.
  • African bees are mating with wild honeybees, creating a more aggressive strain.
  • By looking at them, a bee expert can't tell the difference between African bees and native wild bees.
  • A nest that's bred with African bees might be docile one minute and aggressive the next.
  • Bees don't move much or fly much when it's rainy. Heat will stir them up.
  • African bees don't like cold weather, so the problem is confined to the southern states.
  • The USDA has told licensed bee companies NOT to move wild nests because they might have African bees in them and that would pose a public safety hazard. Unfortunately these nests should be eradicated.
  • Bees rest from five to seven days after swarming.
  • The phrase "the bee's knees" might have started with the phrase "the be-all and end-all," but when it was repeated quickly, the new phrase was born. So it isn't really about bees, but about "B's." It means "something fantastic." 
  • But the first official appearance was in 1907, in a book called Mr. Goggles by Henry Collins Brown: "Bee-raising is a good side line for the farmer, especially since the swell restaurants have made a specialty of fried bees' knees. Such a beesness!"
  • The Brits seem to write it thusly: bees' knees.
  • And the phrase also became a fad during the Roaring Twenties, when people crowed about, "The bee's knees!" This slang phrase deserves a revival, don't you think?
That's me, flying off to do my own thing.

Hmmm. I think I need to write a story about these bees. What do you think?

Oh, and if I have any of this wrong, please bee nice and let me bee correct.


servedogmom said...

This was quite interesting. Our daughter's Critical Care physician is a "bee keeper". He does a honey harvest annually and shares the delicious product with us.

Joanna Slan said...

Oh, aren't you lucky! I wished the bees stayed long enough to make honey, but they didn't. They flew off.