Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Bees of Deseret

The Bees of Deseret

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 02, 2014

The Bees of Deseret

By John S. Davis

The busy bees of Deseret
Are still around the hive,
Though honey hunters in the world
Don’t wish these bees to thrive.

Hum, hum, ye bees,
Build up the hive,
The sweetest honey get,
The world will yet be proud to see
The bees of Deseret.

The bees are gathering homeward fast,
They come from all the earth,
But more come from the spirit world,
Which are of greater worth.
Hum, hum, &c.

The nations wonder at their work,
And envy all they can,
When earth and hell, divide and rage,
These bees are always one.
Hum, hum, &c.

The hive is on the mountain tops,
The valleys swarm with bees,
They gather honey all around,
And drones shall have no ease.
Hum, hum, &c.

The king does live within the hive,
To keep the union strong,
May he with all the busy bees
Enjoy their honey long.
Hum, hum, &c.

When earthquakes, wars and famines rage,
This hive will firmly stand,
Then hum and work, ye busy bees,
Your resting days’ at hand.
Hum, hum, &c.




  1. The gender of the hive’s royal occupant makes the metaphor a bit awkward. Was this the standard understanding of apiary in 1867?

    Comment by Eric B — January 2, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  2. Poetic license!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 2, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

  3. Bro. Davis was seeing far into the future and wondering how to make the heads of certain 21st Century bloggers explode. And then it came to him.

    Interesting, too, that he took a bit of a swipe at the converts being gathered to the hive, who were not of as great worth as those newly arrived from the spirit world.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 2, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

  4. Yeah, Mark B., apparently Bro. Davis thought those converts were only in it for the honey!

    Comment by David Y. — January 2, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

  5. John S. Davis (1822-1882) was no ordinary apiarian. This appears to be the same who worked for the Deseret News and had published the Welsh periodical “Udgorn Seion,” (Zion’s Trumpet) for six years. He also published a Welsh hymn book. (In Wales – not sure if it was in Welsh.) Here’s the best part from my source at Dr. Dennis’s wonderful Welsh Mormon History website:

    He “was of a gentle, retiring disposition, but was a strong and independent and original thinker.” -must be a Welsh thing.

    Comment by Grant — January 3, 2014 @ 9:48 am

  6. Thanks for this, Grant. I didn’t have any idea who he was. This is another fine example of the contributions Keepa readers make that adds so much value.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 3, 2014 @ 9:53 am

  7. Thanks, Ardis! It gets better.

    I was just doing some work (real work) on the Uintah Basin issues and the name of one of Utah’s first Senators, Joseph L. Rawlins, came up with regard to the Strawberry Valley Water Users. He was John S. Davis’s son-in-law having married Bro. Davis’s only child, Julia. Apparently, everything in history does somehow connect which, I guess, is sort of the point.

    Or just leave it to me to go off on tangents. . . .

    Comment by Grant — January 3, 2014 @ 11:44 am

  8. How about this, Grant? Not two minutes ago I read an early 20th century letter written by the Wasatch Stake President about the proposal to make a state park in Strawberry Valley. The people of the stake supported its value to the state, but for their own financial sake were opposed to it.

    So, yeah, it’s all connected!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 3, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

  9. I am wondering about the date of 1867 for the poem “The Bees of Deseret”. My ancestor copied this poem into a his book and he dated the entry 1861. What is your information source. Thank, Carol

    Comment by Carol Szoke — August 17, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

  10. It’s in the Millennial Star in February of 1867 — I use the date of publication that is available to me, although poems could of course have been written years earlier. Thanks for your tip.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 17, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

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