Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gangs of Bees

Gangs of Bees

Earlier this month I received an unexpected gift. A researcher, author & gentleman named David W. K. Godrich decided I might enjoy the fruit of many years of his and his father’s labor. He sent me A Gaggle of Geese, a two-generation labor of love begun in 1940 and most recently updated in 2011. This week’s post was inspired by Mr. Godrich’s generosity.

His book consists of 238 pages of lists of collective nouns. Early on in the book, the entries for groups of bees caught my attention & inspired a little research of my own. Though each term in this list may have a slightly different meaning, and some are obviously alternate spellings of the same word, all are established descriptors for groups of bees.

an apian of bees
an apiary of bees
a bike of bees
a butt of bees
a cast of bees
a chit of bees
a colony of bees
a community of bees
a cote of bees
an erst of bees
a flight of bees
a grist of bees
a hive of bees
a multitude of bees
a nest of bees
a neast of bees
a play of bees
a smart of bees
a spew of bees
a spindle of bees
a swarm of bees
a swarme of bees

Good followers, how many of these are familiar to you?  Which are unfamiliar? What new collective noun would you suggest for bees? For groups of readers? For groups of writers?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources: the OED, Wordnik, Etymonline. Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms (Gale Group 2008) & A Gaggle of Geese, by David W. K. Godrich, fifth edition, 2011.


  1. Amazing. I've never heard of a bike, butt, chit, erst, grist, neast, play, smart, spew, fact most of these collective nouns...of bees.

  2. Hi Anne,
    I'm with you. I have a particular fondness for a spew of bees -- it's so very visual.

  3. Apiary, colony, flight, hive, swarm...figured it was shorter to name the ones I did know!

    A library of readers? A chapter of writers? A marvel of writers! Hmm, such interesting ideas...a fascination of readers. There ya go.

  4. Such a special gift to receive! I have never heard of most of these. My favorites: a play of bees and a spew of bees. Wonderfully descriptive. Thanks for the fun morning image of playfully spewing bees!

  5. I hadn't heard of most of these... a butt of bees grabbed me the most, the visual of sitting on a swarm of bees made me shudder! LOL It doesn't surprise me that there are so many ways to describe a grouping of bees, as they inspire such dread in so many of us, especially those allergic to the little critters. Reading the list I had a vision of a kaleidoscope of melissophobes St. Vitus dancing amidst a spew of bees...

    How about a story of writers... An anecdote of authors... A chronicle of narrators... a browse of readers...

  6. Christine, Rachel6 & Susan,
    Thanks for dropping by & pondering bee-groups with me, & special thanks Rachel6 & Susan for the suggestions for author & reader collective nouns.