phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Bees and Beavers

Posted by Markitos on August 08, 2001

In Reply to: Busy Bee posted by Q on August 08, 2001

: : Please define original intent of this expression, as I see it used in a negative way.

: "Busy as a Bee" The equivalent Latin phrase is "Sat gis tamquam mus in matella."
: Bees feed on pollen and nectar; the latter is converted to honey in the bee's digestive tract.
: The honey bee produces millions of dollars worth of honey and beeswax, and pollinates commercial fruits, vegetables and field crops. Honey bees live in a caste system and are so highly specialized that no individual bee, including the queen, is capable of living alone. Adult honey bees consist of 3 castes - queens, drones and workers. The queen is the only fully developed female in the hive. The drones are functional male bees that mate with the queen. The workers are undeveloped females who make honey, gather nectar and pollen, tend to the eggs laid by the queen, tend to the queen and clean the hive. Worker honey bees communicate the location of a pollen or nectar source with an elaborate dance that consists of some combination of circles and the wagging of the abdomen.

: Isaac Watts (1674-1748) English clergyman and hymn writer once wrote:
: "How doth the little busy bee
: Improve each shining hour,
: And gather honey all the day
: From every opening flower"!

: I've also heard the phrase "Busy little beaver" reflecting the 'round-the-clock effort towards the making of his water chalet.
: I think many people insert what they wish after "Busy as.." Ie: "Busy as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest."
: Anything said in sarcastic tone will produce a negative implication.

Yah, it's a term of condescension, the implication is not "How wonderful that you are so industrious," it's "What are you trying to do, make everybody else look bad?" Usually this is said of someone who is oblivious to whatever convention--regarding privacy or work habits or whatever--they are trangressing. "Aren't you a busy bee!" is also an indirect way of indicating someone is putting their nose where it doesn't belong, such as in someone else's business.....

As for "busy as a beaver," you'll also hear the verb "beavering," as in, "Earl's beavering along reorganizing the office supplies."

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