Beehives as Symbols in History
While they are a practical way to house bees, beehives have also been used symbolically throughout history and across cultures. Symbols (images, sounds, colors, shapes, words) stand for or represent something else (ideas, feelings, actions, places, people, groups). Symbols can communicate complicated ideas or messages in a simpler form.
Historically, people and cultures around the world have used bees and beehives to symbolize many different ideas.
- Ancient Egypt - Bees as givers of life; death and resurrection.
- Greeks and Romans - Beehives represented an ideal society and prosperity.
- European Middle Ages - Beehives stood for unity under one ruler or leader; the spiritual unity of the Christian Church.
- French First and Second Empire - Imperial symbol; traditional emblem of French royalty.
- Early American Republic - Beehives represented a system of government in which individuals willingly sacrifice private interests to work together for the good of society; industry and agriculture.
- Industrial Revolution - Bees and beehives stood for ceaseless work, thriftiness, and industry.
A Hive By Any Other Symbol
In Utah, the skep beehive is predominately used in both religious and secular imagery. However, images such as bees, honey, and honeycomb are also used as stand-ins to represent similar meanings.