The .218 Bee is a .22 caliber centerfire rifle cartridge designed for varmint hunting by Winchester in 1938. The cartridge was originally chambered in lever-action rifles, which may have ultimately led to its lack of popularity. The cartridge is named for the bore diameter of the barrel in which the cartridge is chambered rather than the usual practice in the United States of having the cartridge's nomenclature reflect in some way the bullet diameter.
The .218 Bee cartridge was designed by Winchester for use in their lever-action rifles. Winchester designed the cartridge by necking down the .25-20 Winchester cartridge to accept a .224 diameter bullet. As the .25-20 had been based on the .32-20 Winchester, the .32-20 Winchester can be considered to be the parent cartridge of the .218 Bee. The cartridge was introduced as a commercial cartridge by Winchester in 1939 in their Model 65 lever action rifle, which was also chambered for the .25-20 and .32-20 Winchester cartridges. However, while the .25-20 and the .32-20 Model 65 rifles had 22 inch (560 mm) barrels, the rifles chambered for the Bee sported 24 inch (610 mm) barrels.
In terms of relative performance, the .218 Bee falls between the smaller .22 Hornet, and the larger .222 Remington and the more popular .223 Remington. In terms of short range velocity the .218 works quite well.