Entries linking to honey-bee
Middle English hony, from Old English hunig "honey," from Proto-Germanic *hunang- (source also of Old Norse hunang, Swedish honung, Old Saxon honeg, Old Frisian hunig, Middle Dutch honich, Dutch honig, Old High German honang, German Honig "honey"), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a PIE *k(e)neko- denoting yellow, golden, or brownish colors (compare Sanskrit kancan- "golden," Welsh canecon "gold," Greek knēkos "yellowish"), or perhaps from a substratum word. Finnish hunaja is a Germanic loan-word.
The more common Indo-European word is represented in Germanic by the Gothic word for "honey," miliþ (from PIE root *melit- "honey"). A term of endearment from at least mid-14c.; extended form honey-bunch attested by 1904. Meaning "anything good of its kind" is 1888, American English. Honey-locust, North American tree, so called from 1743, said to be named from a sweet pulp made by Native Americans from the tree's beans.
stinging insect of the genus Apis, living in societies under a queen and producing wax and honey, Old English beo "bee," from Proto-Germanic *bion (source also of Old Norse by, Old High German bia, Middle Dutch bie), from PIE root *bhei- "bee."
Used metaphorically for "busy worker" since 1530s. Sense of "meeting of neighbors to unite their labor for the benefit of one of their number," 1769, American English, probably is from comparison to the combined labor and social activity of the insect; this was extended to other senses (such as spelling bee, attested by 1809; Raising-bee (1814) for building construction; quilting bee (1824, see quilt (v.)); logging-bee for a log-rolling; paring-bee for preparing harvested apples; also hanging bee "a lynching").
To have a bee in (one's) bonnet (1825), said of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.