Do Bees Have Knees?

by Katy - Bee Missionary May 05, 2020

Do Bees Have Knees?

Today’s post is short and sweet for a change.

Has anyone ever said that you’re “the bee’s knees?”

Did you wonder what it meant? It’s considered a compliment, but why, and where did the phrase come from?

The phrase seems to have been coined in 1920s America, during the flapper years, so it's about 100-years old, and isn’t used very much these days. During the 1920s it was trendy to create silly animal-based phrases.

Checking out bee biology, bees do have knees. Like all insects their legs have 6 named sections and each is connected to the other. They are: Coxa, Trochanter, Femur, Tibia, Metatarsus and Tarsus.

There are specialized pollen-carrying structures on bee legs, commonly called "pollen baskets," where they gather and carry pollen back to the beehive.

Other than that, there is nothing spectacular about any one leg section over another, but the joint most likely to be considered a knee is between the femur and tibia.

Bees rhymes with knees, and that may be the main reason for the phrase. There were many such phrases back then, like “the owl’s bowels,” and “the eel’s heels.”

Some didn't rhyme but were catchy, like: “the cat’s pajamas,” and “the cat’s meow” and “the cat’s whiskers.” We still hear these phrases occasionally today. Other weird phrases haven’t survived, like “the snake’s hips” and “the sardine’s whiskers.”

This 1:58-minute video shows you how to make a sleek "Bee's Knees" cocktail:

During Prohibition there was a cocktail called The Bee’s Knees and its ingredients were honey, gin and lemon juice. If the bootlegged bathtub gin was a bit rough, the bartender went heavy on the honey.

You'd probably have needed 6 legs and knees, like the honeybees, to carry you home! 

If you've been called "the bee's knees," come tell us the story over on our Facebook page! :)

 

© 2020 Bee Mission. All Rights Reserved.





Katy - Bee Missionary
Katy - Bee Missionary

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