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Introduction

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property-bee was conceived by me (beerhunter) an the beginning of 2008 as a New Years resolution (I have lots of ideas, just never carry them though, so the New Years resolution was to take one idea and make it publicly available!)

Initially the toolbar was posted on globalhousepricecrash.com where it received a rapturous response, so much so that on 23rd January 2008, it gained its own website and it's own name... Property Bee.

By the way 'Bee' doesn't refer to the insect, but the American usage;

The term 'bee' has been used in the USA with the meaning of 'gathering', either for work, pleasure or competition, since the mid 18th century. The first such usage was the name 'spinning-bee', as in this example from The Boston Gazette, 1769:

'Last Thursday about twenty young Ladies met at the house of Mr. L. on purpose for a Spinning Match; (or what is called in the Country a Bee).'

Bees got their name by quite a roundabout route. The Middle English word for a prayer was a 'bene', from which we derive words like 'benefit'. This migrated to 'boon', with the meaning of 'a favour granted'. The English Dialect Dictionary, 1905, records the country term 'boon' as meaning 'voluntary help, given to a farmer by his neighbours, in time of harvest, haymaking, etc'.

Migrants from England to the USA would have taken the term 'boon', which was also spelled 'been' or 'bean', with them. Communal activities were an essential ingredient of survival in frontier America and the word would certainly have been called on there. The imagery of the social and industrious nature of bees was sufficient to change 'beens' into 'bees'.

Many of the activities where people congregated to undertake communal work became known as bees of one sort or another - 'husking-bees', 'quilting-bees', 'barn-raising-bees'. A less pleasant form of assembly was the hanging or lynching bee. A reference to such was made in The Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel in August 1874. The paper reported a story of an incident in Maysville, Indiana, in which a case of mistaken identity almost resulted in a lynching:

'And he came very near being the chief attraction at a Lynching Bee.'

The best-known 'bee', and the one that remains in common use, is the 'spelling bee'. Such events were originally called simply 'spelling-matches' but, being social gatherings, they came to be referred to as 'spelling-bees' by the early 19th century. The first reference I can find to the expression 'spelling-bee' in print is in The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, April 1850:

'Those who have attended a 'spelling-bee' - and what reader who ever went to a district-school in the country but has attended them?'

It is clear that the term was well-established by 1850, as the citation suggests that the tests had then been in use for some years.

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