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What Is the State Insect of Utah? How Was It Decided?

Honeybee on yellow flower collects nectar

Every state has a number of symbols, and some states have more than others. State symbols are selected to reflect the unique way of life in each state, from state bird to state insect. Utah, for instance, chose the honeybee as its state insect in 1983 after a fifth-grade class asked the state legislature to officially adopt it.

Let’s check out some other interesting info about Utah’s state insect, plus some of its other state symbols.

garden flower divider

Why the Honeybee?

The honeybee is an energetic team member and an essential pollinator nearly everywhere. They’re also loyal and dedicated to the good of the hive, so it’s no surprise that Utah chose it as the state insect.

In fact, it’s pretty late to the party considering the honeybee hive has been on the state flag’s seal since 1896. And Utah has styled itself as the Beehive State since 1959.

What does come as a surprise is that 16 other US states also chose the honeybee as their state insect—more than any other bug. Let’s take a look at what those other states are below.

Close up of a western honeybee
Image By: Daniel Prudek, Shutterstock

States with the Honeybee as the State Insect:

  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

Why Is Utah So Obsessed With Honeybees?

It strikes us as odd that Utah loves honeybees so much when you realize that they’re middling in honey production compared to other states. It makes more sense when you connect it to the state’s early history. More specifically, the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

When pioneers got to the state and realized it couldn’t support sugar cane, they looked for alternatives. The answer, as it turns out, was none other than honey produced by honeybees.

Utah Governor Brigham Young even wanted to name the state “Deseret,” an ancient word for honeybee found in the Book of Mormon. Utah began to import honeybees from Europe to increase the supply, and the rest is history.

western honeybee sitting on a flower
Image By: Daniel Prudek, Shutterstock

How Are State Symbols Chosen?

State symbols are formally adopted by a state’s legislature, typically as the result of a statewide poll in schools. Some are chosen after lobbying by organizations or at the heed of state politicians. State symbols must have a strong connection with the state. For example, state trees are typically trees native to the state or with historical importance.

Some states have more symbols than others. Texas, known for being proud, has no less than 72 symbols. By contrast, Indiana and Iowa have only adopted four symbols each—a tie for the least state symbols of any US state. Most are somewhere between a dozen or two, but symbols can be added at any time. Some have been enshrined for nearly a century, while others may only be a few decades old.

Other State Symbols of Utah

Utah has exactly 26 state symbols adopted by the state legislature. They have many of the standard symbols, but a few oddballs are thrown in for good measure. Let’s check out some of those state symbols below.

quaking aspen trees in a field
Image Credit: Sulae, Shutterstock

State Symbols of Utah include:

State Animal: Elk
State Bird: Seagull
State Emblem: Beehive
State Flower: Sego Lily
State Fossil: Allosaurus
State Fruit: Cherry
State Tree: Quaking Aspen
State Vegetable: Spanish Sweet Onion

garden flower divider


Utah has a long, unique history among US states, and their early dependence on honey as a sweetener had a big impact. The state styled itself the Beehive State first, then later adopted the honeybee as the state insect.

Featured Image Credit: Yod 67, Shutterstock


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