The Hive Connection: Why Is Utah The Beehive State?

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The United States is an incredibly diverse place with each state having its own history and culture. But one of the more interesting facts about this subject is the names given to certain states which may lead you to ask why is Utah the Beehive State?

Utah was dubbed the beehive state back in the 1800s. It had nothing to do with honey production and more to do with the symbolism of bees in that they are hardworking. This allowed Utah to represent perseverance and industry within the state and the name has stuck until today.

I’ve been looking into the reason behind this name and it got me wondering whether Utah was also a big honey-producing state. I’d love to share what I’ve discovered so keep reading to find out more.

Where Did The Name ‘The Beehive State’ Come From?

A lot of people are under the impression that Utah gets its nickname from the fact that there are a lot of bees here or that it’s a big honey producer; it’s not, but more on that later.

In fact, the term ‘the beehive state’ actually has a more cultural and religious meaning, and the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, which is the most common religious organization in the state of Utah.

Back in the mid-1800s, the leader of the church, a man named Brigham Young, decided to name the area (around the Salt Lake Valley), deseret which is a word that simply means honey bee in the Book of Mormon.

Not only this but when these people first entered the area, if they wanted to prosper, they had to be dedicated and hardworking. This is a trait that is evident among honey bees so the term was rather fitting.

However, while all this was going on in the middle of the 19th century, it wasn’t until 1956 that the beehive became the official emblem of the state of Utah and was finally placed on its flag.

What Is The State Insect Of Utah

Having learned what we have so far, it probably won’t come as much of a surprise that the state insect of Utah is the honey bee.

But did you know that honey bees, while naturalized in North America, aren’t actually native to this continent?

Honey bees are a European species but they were brought to the United States in the 17th century. In some cases, non-native species can be nothing short of a nuisance and at worst, can destroy ecosystems. But this isn’t the case with the honey bee.

In fact, since being naturalized in North America, they’re one of the most important insect species. They pollinate a huge number of crops and wildflowers so the scene in North America would be very different without them.

Does Utah Produce A Lot Of Honey?

It would be easy to assume that, given its name, Utah is a big honey-producing state so it may come as a surprise when I tell you that it’s actually the 24th biggest producer out of all 50 states.

What’s more, there are reports that honey production in the state is getting worse with one stating that during the period between 2021 and 2022, Utah was the worst state for bee colony loss.

Is Hobby Beekeeping Popular In Utah?

With all this talk of bees and honey, you’d likely imagine that Utah was bursting with beekeeping enthusiasts. However, it’s not the most popular hobby here and it’s reported that there are only around 700 beekeepers in the state but not all of these are hobbyists.

A hobbyist is classed as someone who manages fewer than 10 beehives and while it’s not the most common activity here, there’s no reason you can’t get involved. In fact, Utah has several beekeeping associations that provide some excellent resources, advice, and a great community for new and experienced apiarists.

That said, if you’re looking to start a beekeeping business in Utah then it’s worth considering that it’s actually one of the worst states to try and make a living from honey production. Reports indicate that the potential earnings for Utah beekeepers could be as much as £20,000 less than in other places like New York or California.

Final Thoughts

Utah has been known as the beehive state for almost 150 years but many people are left scratching their heads as to why Utah is the beehive state.

After being given this name by early Mormon settlers, it’s something that has been ingrained into the culture of the state and now a beehive is even featured on the state flag.

Nevertheless, honey production in Utah is far from being the greatest in the United States. But with several hundred beekeepers here, it’s still something that’s alive and kicking.