When we describe someone as being the bee’s knees we are paying them a compliment because this phrase means of ‘excellent quality’. Some sources point to the origin relating to the pollen collected by bees as they flit from flower to flower – and we all know the end result will be honey, which is good.

So, someone who is admired for having certain qualities or for having achieved something significant may be referred to as the bee’s knees. This is the meaning that has been in use since the 1920s.

Funnily enough, when the bee’s knees was first recorded in the late 18th century, it meant ‘something very small and insignificant’. Well, bees may be small but we have all been made aware of how very significant they are in our lives!

NOTE: Click on a photograph of you wish to see a larger view.


The densely-leaved robust succulent shrubs, Crassula ovata, thrive in the sunnier spots of our garden and provide a good screen around part of our swimming pool. Their stout, gnarled stems soon give the impression that mature plants are very old. The flowers in this picture are past their prime and have turned brown.

Note the smaller, self-seeded plants growing at the base, which illustrate how well these plants propagate from broken off branches, or even leaves, stuck into the ground. The ball-shaped clusters of star-shaped flowers look attractive both from a distance and from close up.

They attract a variety of insects such as bees, wasps, flies, beetles and butterflies.

The flowers develop into small capsules, each holding many tiny seeds, which are dispersed by the wind. Bryan, the angulate tortoise that has found a home in our garden, sometimes munches on the lower leaves, which are edged with red, as these plants grow in full sun – ones in more shady areas do not.

For newer readers, here is a picture of Bryan, the angulate tortoise which has been living in our garden for some years now.



This iconic Aloe ferox grows on its own in our front garden. The leaves are broad and dull green, while the dry leaves remain on the lower parts of the stem.

The bright orange-red flowers provide a cheery sight in the winter garden.

As you can see, they open from the bottom up.

They are a magnet for bees.


Although Workers’ Day has been an international holiday in many countries since 1891, South Africans have only enjoyed the May holiday since 1994. Leaving the political connotations of the public holiday aside, here is a busy bee on a Californian Poppy – no let up for them, whatever the day!