Latin;N:beehive; apiary| bee-house (http://www.latin-dictionary.org/alvarium)
I have recently been thinking about the Beehive and its symbolism in Freemasonry. There are lots of papers, lectures, etc. about this symbol and what it represents. It is often glossed over and really isn’t given due justice. Typically, it can be summed up as industrious, but I think it is more than that.
When we as Masons look at the beehive it is awash with bees to-and-fro and they are working to sustain not just themselves, but the colony. In addition, they are benefiting their surroundings with their hard work and labor. As they go from plant to plant, they carry pollen between them, ensuring the propagation of the crop. Farmers and animals benefit from the bees labor too, by gathering their sweet honey.
Mackey relates that the hive is representative of work and obedience and that as we labor, we should consider our place in our society and take our proper place to support those around us. He also relates that the symbol is an alternative symbol of the Ark and regeneration.
We know that the fruit of the bee is has antibacterial properties and has been found in useful state in ancient tombs. It is also interesting to consider that Egyptians used honey in its funeral preparation as a form of embalming fluid. In fact, Greeks, Hindu and other cultures use and continue to use honey as part of their funerary practices.
WB Hogan alludes to the importance of the bee in alchemical process as well. He alludes to the fact that it more especially is tied to the Philosopher’s Stone (Alchemist Honey). “Bees are like alchemists who go out into nature and collect the raw materials. Bring it back to the labs and transmute it into golden honey.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUTLcG718_E&feature=player_detailpage#t=2014)
Further research into the symbolism of the beehive will undoubtedly turn up some relation between the rose and beehive based on symbolism shown by Robert Fludd’s Summum Bonum, which Adam McLean provides some interesting background on.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that a right thinking Mason will find an interesting path if he digs further at this little understood Masonic symbol.