From The Grand Lodge Of Texas
As a Masonic symbol the Bee Hive receives very little attention in the Texas
Masonic ritual though it is part of the Master Mason’s degree. The Bee Hive is
one of the many symbols on the Master’s Carpet described in this degree.
Unfortunately, it is part of the monitorial work and its explanation is rarely
presented as part of the Master Mason’s lecture.
No one knows when the Bee Hive entered the Masonic ritual as a symbol. However,
the bee in Masonry is mentioned as early as 1724 in an expose printed in
Ireland. In The Early Masonic Catechisms it is said, “A Bee has in all Ages and
Nations been the Grand Hierogliphick of Masonry, because it excells all other
living Creatures in the Contrivance and Commodiousness of its Habitation or
The early 19th century lecture of the Master’s degree contained the following.
“The Bee Hive is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that
virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in the heavens, to the
lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us, that as we come into the world
rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never
sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want,
especially when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to
Jones’ Freemason’s Guide and Compendium also indicates the early use of the Bee
Hive as a Masonic symbol. “On old jewels, tracing-boards, lodge furniture,
banners, summonses, certificates, etc., the beehive with its flying bees is
often a prominent symbol, and in at least one case is to be found in a lodge
seal…. As far back as 1724-27, a Masonic pamphlet speaks at length of the bee
and the beehive as a symbol.”
The bee is a very energetic insect that never appears to rest from sunup to
sundown. As a result, the bee and the bee hive have long been symbols of
industry or work. Masonically, the Bee Hive is an emblem of industry and the
lecture strongly recommends that virtue be practiced by everyone. It suggests
that we should never be idle, especially when we can assist our fellow man by
The bee is a hard and tireless worker, not for himself but for the swarm. The
bee works in complete cooperation with the other bees and does so without
dissension. The bee protects the queen, refuses admittance to enemies, builds,
makes honey, and lives in a society ruled by order. Man must work as a unit to
accomplish great things. The builders of old worked as a unit to build the great
cathedrals. He could not work alone and expect to build the mighty edifice.
Every man had to do his part, take pride in his assignments, and work in
cooperation to complete the cathedrals.
To close the discussion, the following description of the Bee Hive is taken from
the Monitor of the Lodge.
The Bee Hive is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that
virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in the heavens to the
lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us that, as we come into the world
endowed as rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious
ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow creatures around us are in
want, when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to
When we take a survey of nature, we view man in his infancy more helpless and
indigent than the brute creation; he lies languishing for days, months and
years, totally incapable of providing sustenance for himself, or guarding
against the attack of wild beasts of the field, or sheltering himself from the
inclemencies of the weather.
It might have pleased the great Creator of heaven and earth to have made man
independent of all other beings; but, as dependence is one of the strongest
bonds of society, mankind were made dependent upon each other for protection and
security, as they thereby enjoy better opportunities of fulfilling the duties of
reciprocal love and friendship. Thus was man formed for social and active life;
the noblest part of the work of God; and he that will so demean himself as not
to be endeavoring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may
be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and
unworthy of our protection as Masons.
As Masons, we must imitate the bee, be industrious, work with others and for
others, take pride in our vocations, obey the rules of our society, and strive
to add to our body of knowledge and understanding. Otherwise we are useless
members of society.
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