Utah’s history with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is hence its nickname, The State of the Beehive, comes from. Upon arriving in what would one day become Salt Lake in July 1847, Brigham Young declared the beehive a symbol and named it “Deseret.” To this day, the beehive can be found on road signs, t-shirts and statues of the capital.
In an article published on October 11, 1881, The Deseret News says of the emblem, “the hive and the bees form our communal coat of arms … It is a significant representation of the industry, of the harmony, of the order and of the frugality of the people, and of the sweet results of their labor, their union and their intelligent cooperation. “
Beyond symbolism, Utah is home to over a thousand native bee species. These pollinators thrive in the desert environment and the diversity of soils attracts a variety of insects. In fact, Utah boasts of the title of the most diverse bee species, accounting for almost 25% of all bee species found in North America.
About 75-95% of all flowering plants on Earth require assistance with pollination. This is where bees, butterflies, bats, birds and more come in. They spread pollen from plant to plant, ensuring that all organisms have the opportunity to reproduce.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, factors such as habitat destruction, pesticide use, and the effects of climate change, among others, are decreasing the bee population as a whole.
On campus, the University of Utah Beekeepers Association is committed to educating the student body about bees and protecting these tiny creatures. John Stilley is a senior at the U and vice president of the club.
“We run three separate sections of beehives around campus,” Stilley said. “We have a group of beehives at the Marriott Library. We have a group near the health sciences building on the upper campus, and we also help manage the beehives in the Marriott dormitory. So all in all, we have about nine beehives to manage.
Stilley said the main goal of the club is to provide a way for people to learn beekeeping.
“Participate without making the initial investment on all the necessary equipment and materials,” he said.
Through Instagram events, in person and Zoom, they reached out to the campus community, hosting events to engage and offering information to those with limited knowledge on the subject. While the winter months were slower, the rest of the year was spent educating the public.
Anika D’Souza, a second year at U, said in an email interview that the most important thing this club does is educate.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about bees and other pollinators, and the general public really needs to be educated as to why these insects are so crucial to our lives and our environment,” said D’Souza.
To learn more about the U beekeepers Association and their programming, visit them online or on Instagram.