It is the height of excellence
"The bee's knees" apparently came into use during the 1920s when the flappers compared almost anything they considered excellent to a part of an animal. It seems that American cartoonist Tad Dorgan is responsible for this particular expression; and also for "the cat's pajamas", and possibly for "hot dog". He also coined a number of other expressions that didn't stick such as "the canary's tusks" and "the flea's eyebrows". Other superlatives from the period include "the sardine's whiskers", "the eel's ankle" and "the clam's garter".
According to The Guardian, some believe that the "bee's knees" derives from a shortening of "the be all and the end all of everything" which was shortened to "the B's and E's" and thus to "bee's knees"; while another camp believe it derives from "it's the business".
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