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by Richard G. Oman
Nineteenth-century leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consciously created symbols to buttress their community. The most persistent of these pioneer symbols was the beehive.
Its origin may relate to the statement in the Book of Mormon that the Jaredites carried "with them Deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee" (Ether 2:3). The Deseret News (Oct. 11, 1881) described the symbol of the beehive in this way: "The hive and honey bees form our communal coat of arms . It is a significant representation of the industry, harmony, order and frugality of the people, and of the sweet results of their toil, union and intelligent cooperation."
Working together during this early period, individuals contributed specialized talents and skills for building an integrated and well-planned community in a hostile environment. Community, not individuality, created this persistent symbol. The beehive has appeared on public and private Mormon buildings (such as temples, tabernacles, and meetinghouses, Brigham Young's Beehive House, and the mercantile institution ZCMI) as well as in folk art and on furniture.
Today it appears as a logo of some Church-related organizations, on the seals of the state of Utah and of two universities, on Church Welfare products, and on some commercial signs in Utah. It links the Mormon community across time while symbolizing the Mormon pioneer past.
(See Daily Living home page; Church History home page; 1844-1877 home page)
Cannon, Hal. The Grand Beehive. Salt Lake City, 1980.
Oman, Richard, and Susan Oman. "Mormon Iconography." In Utah Folk Art: A Catalog of Material Culture, ed. H. Cannon. Provo, Utah, 1980.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Beehive
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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