early 15c., collective noun of quails and ladies, from Anglo-French bevée, which is of unknown origin. One supposed definition of the word is "a drinking bout," but this perhaps is a misprint of bever (see beverage). If not, perhaps the original sense is birds gathered at a puddle or pool for drinking or bathing. But the quest for a clear and logical origin in such a word might be futile. "These old names for companies of men and animals are however very fantastical and far-fetched" [OED].
updated on May 23, 2017