The bee was among the Egyptians the symbol of an obedient people, because, says Horapollo, "of all insects, the bee alone had a king. " Hence looking at the regulated labor of these insects when congregated in their hive, it is not surprising that a beehive should have been deemed an appropriate emblem of systematized industry. Freemasonry has therefore adopted the beehive as a symbol of industry, a virtue taught in the instructions, which says that a Master Mason "works that he may receive wages, the better to support himself and family, and contribute to the relief of a worthy, distressed brother, his widow and orphans" ; and in the Old Charges, which tell us that "all Masons shall work honestly on working days, that they may live creditably on holidays."
There seems, however, to be a more recondite meaning connected with this symbol. The ark has already been shown to have been an emblem common to Freemasonry and the Ancient Mysteries, as a symbol of regeneration--of the second birth from death to life. Now, in the Mysteries, a hive was the type of the ark. "Hence," says Faber (Origin of Pagan Idolatry, volume ii, page 133), "both the diluvian priestesses and the regenerated souls were called bees; hence, bees were feigned to be produced from the carcass of a cow, which also symbolized the ark; and hence, as the great father was esteemed an infernal god, honey was much used both in funeral rites and in the Mysteries." This extract is from the article on the bee in Evans' Animl Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture.
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