Why is Utah Obsessed with Honey Bees?
If you’ve ever travelled through Utah, you may have noticed funny symbols on all the highway signs, the Capitol building, the state flag, and even on the streets. Well, Utah is known today as the Beehive State. For that reason, symbols of beehives appear almost everywhere. There are even statues and fountains of beehives throughout the state, and countless businesses have “beehive” in their names. So what does the honeybee have to do with Utah?
Back in the late 1840s, a man named Brigham Young led a large group of pioneers from the Midwest to the Salt Lake Valley in modern day Utah. The vast majority were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young became the president of the church after the founder, Joseph Smith, who the members regarded as a prophet of God, was killed for his beliefs. This group of pioneers had moved around quite a bit trying to escape persecution in the East. Finally, after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young decided to move the Saints west.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are also known as “Mormons.” That nickname comes from the title of a book of scripture that they read alongside the Holy Bible. The book is called “The Book of Mormon.” In that book, which is said to have been written by ancient inhabitants of the American Continents, the word, “deseret” is found, which means honeybee.
Mormons, even in the East where they were persecuted, were always known for their hard work. They saw the honeybee as a symbol of hard work and self-reliance. They began to use it as a symbol of their work ethic. The individual honeybee works very hard, but does it all for the good of the hive. Mormons, too, work very hard individually for the good of the community. This is exemplified in the fact that they decided to settle in barren desert land that no one else wanted, but were able, through hard work, to grow everything they needed.
When Brigham Young and the pioneers finally brought their journey across the plains to a close, they settled in Utah and originally named it “The Provisional State of Deseret.” Though bees have been a part of Utah’s history since its conception, the honeybee wasn’t named the official state insect until 1983.