The Order of Bees for Boys and Girls was formed as the first youth initiative in 1922.
The Order of the Junior Craftsmen was the second initiative formed in 1938 to focus on the development of young men.
PGM Henry G. Fort partnered with the National Urban League in the 1950s and 60s to provide job training for the youths. The Order remains in existence to this date.
“Go to the bee, and learn how diligent she is, and what a noble work she produces; whose labour kings and private men use for their health. She is desired and honoured by all, and, though weak in strength, yet since she values wisdom she prevails.”
“The bee hive is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that virtue of all created beings…Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God; and he that will so demean himself, as not to be endeavouring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as masons.”
– Proverbs 6:8
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois was formed in 1867 from Lodges within the State of Illinois that were chartered by the Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodge of Ohio.
Prince Hall Freemasonry is the oldest, continually-active, African American fraternal organization within the State of Illinois.
The namesake of an African American abolitionist, civic-servant and pioneer in Freemasonry, the fraternity has a direct line to the Mother Grand Lodge of all Freemasonry in England.
Like Prince Hall, Prince Hall Freemasons are dedicated to making good men better through service to mankind.
There are hundreds of thousands of Prince Hall Freemasons across the United States of America and beyond.
History of the Order
The Order of Bees was organized and set up by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. T. H. Samuels.
September 9, 1921, at the Y.M.C.A. and is so called because of the relationship existing between the activities of the youth and the family of bees. The name was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois. The order is governed by a staff of eleven or thirteen officers, five elected and the rest appointed.
The platform on which the Queen or King Bee is seated is designated as the throne, the space between the altar and the throne is called the comb.
The Pillar Bees represent the supports of the hive.
The Portal Bees guard the entrance to the hive.
The lodge is so formed that all parts of the hive are represented.
Hive called to order by three raps of gavel. All stand.
Queen Bee: Sister Senior Bee, are you satisfied that there are no thieves or drones in the hive?
Senior Bee: I am.
Queen Bee: Then let us be clothed in our sashes.
Bees all put on sashes after which all are seated by one rap of the gavel.
Queen B.: Sister Senior Bee, are you a Bee?
Senior B.: I am a Bee.
Queen B.: What makes you a Bee?
Senior B.: My inheritance.
Queen B.: What is your inheritance?
Senior B.: That of being the son or daughter of a Master Mason or coming well recommended by one.
Queen B.: Where were you made a Bee?
Senior B.: In a regular and constituted hive of Bees.
Queen B.: How many constitute a hive of Bees?
Senior B.: Eleven or Thirteen.
Queen B.: Thirteen and who are they?
Senior B.: Queen Bee, Senior Bee, Junior Bee, Chaplin Bee, Record Bee, Bread Bee, four Pillar Bees, two
Portal Bees, and one Guard Bee.
Queen B.: Sister Guard Bee, your place and duty there.
Guard B.: Without the hive, so as to give warning of the approach of drones and thieves.
Queen B.: Sister Portal Bee’s, your place and duty in the hive.
Portal Bs, answered by right Portal B.: Without the entrance of the hive that all who approach may be inspected before entering the sanctuary of the King or Queen, to receive or deposit the fruits of their labor.
Queen B.: Sister Pillar Bee’s, your place and duty in the hive?
Pillar Bs, answered by first right Pillar B.: At four corners of the hive, to act as a support for the hive, that it may be elevated above the lower things, and conduct candidates.
Queen B.: Sister Bread Bee, your place and duty in the hive.
Bread or Treasurer B.: At the right corner of the hive to receive the bread of the hive and give out by orders of the Queen Bee and all Bees consenting.
Queen B.: Sister record Bee, your place and duty in the hive.
Record B.: At the left corner of the hive to record the entrance of the Bees into the hive, receive the bread and deposit it within the cell of the Bread Bee.
Queen B.: Sister Chaplin Bee, your place and duty in the hive?
Chaplin B.: At the head of the comb and in front of the Queen Bee, to contribute to the spiritual and moral welfare of the Bees, that the sweets of the hive may be pure and clean.
Queen B.: Sister Junior Bee, your place and duty in the hive?
Junior B.: On the left of the throne to consul with the Queen Bee and Senior Bee in the management of the hive and seeing to the filling of the comb.
Queen B.: Sister Senior Bee, your place and duty in the hive?
Senior B.: On the right of the throne to consul with the Queen Bee and Junior Bee and in their absence or repose to manage the hive and distribute the sweets of the comb.
Queen B.: Sister Senior Bee, the Queen Bee’s place and her duty in the hive?
Senior B.: In the center of the throne, there to govern and manage the hive, uplift its dignity, cement the comb to the hive and to see to it that the sweets of the comb are properly protected and distributed.
Queen B.: Sister Senior Bee, I now declare this hive of Bees to be assembled. Brother Chaplin Bee, attend to your duties.
Queen Bee gives three raps, causing all Bees to stand while Chaplin Bee leads in prayer, closing with amen by all Bees.
Queen B.: Sister Bees, we will now sing our opening song. All join in singing.
Queen B.: Sister Record Bee, you will now call the roll of officers.
Roll of officers being called, hive proceeds to transact such business as may legally come before it. At its completion the following question is then asked preparatory to initiation.
Queen B.: Sister Guard Bee, are there any candidates in waiting?
Guard B.: There is.
Queen B.: Sister record Bee, you will ascertain how many and collect the necessary bread for the cells.
Sister Record Bee reports number and bread collected.
Queen B.: Sister Pillar Bees, you will proceed to the ante room and prepare the candidates for initiation.
After candidates are hoodwinked, first Pillar Bee alarms door of lodge which is answered by first Portal Bee within.
Portal B.: Who comes here to disturb the sanctuary of our Queen?
First Pillar B.: Bees who seek the sweets of our comb.
Portal B.: You will await until the Queen Bee is informed of our mission.
Queen B.: Sister Portal Bee, who dares to alarm the door of my sanctuary?
Portal B.: A humble Bee seeking the sweets of our comb.
Queen B.: You will admit them through the portals of the hive for inspection.
Portal B. proceeding to door: You will enter through the portals of the hive for inspection.
Candidates are conducted three times around the room and kneel around the altar, each candidate holding a small bible in their hands in which form they make upon themselves the obligation of a Bee.
Queen B.: Candidates, you are now about to take upon yourselves the obligation of the Order of Bees; are you willing to take them?
Candidates: I am.
Queen B.: You will repeat your name and say after me. I, …, in the presence of God and these Bees here assembled do solemnly promise to be a good and loyal member of this hive of Bees and be active in doing whatsoever is required of me to do so.
I do further promise to obey and abide by the constitution and general laws of the Order of Bees and all rules and by-laws of the hive to which I belong as far as I am able to do so and the same does not interfere with the duty I owe to my home and parents.
I further promise to help all worthy distressed Bees in needing my aid and contribute to the support of the hive and its lawful undertakings.
I further promise not to cheat, rob or injure another brother or sister Bee, knowingly, nor allow the same to be done if I can help it.
All this I most cheerfully promise to perform and abide by so help me God and keep me steadfast. Amen!
Queen B.: Candidates, what is it you most desire.
Candidates: Some of the sweets of the comb.
Queen B.: Sister Pillar Bees, you will conduct the candidate without the hive and prepare them for entrance into the hive through the door of the hive that they may receive that which they desire, some of the sweets of the comb.
Candidates are conducted to ante-room, hoodwinked and returned one by one, being led once around the room to a square box or door representing the entrance to the hive through which they are caused to crawl, the entrance by the two Portal Bees.
Pillar B.: Candidate, you are now conducted to the entrance of the hive through which you must pass in order to receive the sweets of the comb.
After passing through candidate is conducted to side of room and seated until all have entered, when a line or semi-circle is formed in front of the Queen Bee on the throne.
Queen B.: As a reward for your perseverance you are now given some of the sweets of the comb which is pure honey and bread which is to teach you that as you partake of this substance of the comb so must you ever deposit something of a substantial nature into the hive that the Queen Bee may have pleasure and the hive profit thereby.
Queen B.: You will now receive your work sash which, when worn will designate you as being an active Bee, and entitled to all rights and benefits of the hive.
Queen B.: You will now be conducted before the altar where you will receive the signs and the pass word.
Queen B.: The salutation sign is made by placing the elbows beside the body and bringing the hands together and lowering; this sign is given on entering or leaving the hive.
Queen B.: The recognition sign is made by describing a circle with the right hand in front of you and making a buzzing sound thus: Buz-z-z-z-z-z.
The work accompanying it is given thus:
Queen B.: In.
Queen B.: Let.
Candidate: In ― Me ― Let.
Queen B.: This is the password given at the door and means: Let Me Into the Hive.
Queen B.: This ends the initiation. You will take your seats without the comb.
Queen B.: Sister Record Bee, is there any further business to come before the hive?
Record B.: There is not.
Queen B.: Then we will proceed to close. Gives three raps with gavel; all stand.
Queen B.: Sister Guard Bee, what are your duties?
Guard B.: To guard the hive from intrusion of drones and thieves.
Queen B.: You will faithfully attend to those duties.
Queen B.: Sister Senior Bee, we are about to close this hive of Bees; what are you required to do?
Senior B.: To see that the comb is properly filled and that each Bee has received the sweets of her labor if any be required.
Queen B.: Have you done that?
Senior B.: I have.
Queen B.: Sister Bread Bee, what amount of bread has been collected in the cell? Treasurer announces receipts of meeting.
Queen B.: Sister Bees, we will sing our closing ode. All join in singing.
Queen B.: Sister Chaplin Bee, you will lead the hive in the mispath or parting word. All repeat the Chaplin.
Queen B. raps the gavel and declares the hive closed.
Queen B.: First Portal Bee, close the altar.
Sister second Portal Bee, inform the Guard Bee the entrance to the hive is closed.
In ante-room, one Colony Watchman, with Humble Bee—gives two raps on Colony door—answered by three raps—answered by one rap. Enters Colony Hall as door is opened.
Colony Hall and ante-room to be in complete darkness. Watchman with candidate proceeds into the hall.
Watchman, after two minutes interval: Mighty King Bee, darkness overwhelms us, and we see no prospects of light.
King Bee: Keep striving, Brother.
Watchman continues walking.
Watchman: Mighty King Bee, we are almost exhausted in our attempts to find the light, so that our walk will be easier.
King Bee: Never give up, Brother, remember it is always darkest just before dawn. In a short interval the light is turned on.
Watchman: Ah, the light, now our path will be easier. Conducts candidate to Noble Bee, business to be conducted personally. After completion, watchman conducts candidate back to noble Bee.
Noble Bee: Thrift implies frugality, economy, good management, prudence, carefulness.
We should say it means these things in all the walks of life,—in regard to business, social, intellectual and religious life and personal care.
First, in regard to business life. Can a young man starting out in the world ever hope to gain a foothold, firm and sure, without constant practice of thrift?
He who thoughtlessly, carelessly or willfully spends all his earnings is surely laying by for himself a time of poverty, want and despair, a time when he will see his loved ones suffer for the things he cannot provide.
To spend week in and week out all that one makes, and perhaps a little more borrowed from a trusting friend He means well he fully intends paying back, but living expenses increase, Perhaps illness throws him out of work for a time; he is forced to borrow more to tide him over to better days.
Debts have a wonderful way of increasing and fastening themselves around the neck of a man like a great rock He is so burdened with them that he cannot put forth his best energies; his sleep is troubled and broken and his earning capacity is steadily lessened He sees so many opportunities whereby he could make a comfortable living—he feels he has the ability, if, if, if, he was only out of debt and had just a little to start with, but he has to let it pass.
He struggles hard and may, with ninny sacrifices, be able to pay off finally his just and honest debts—but his golden opportunities have passed, his ambition and strength of body are failing him.
Or if he is not able to pay off his debts, should illness, loss of position, or many other misfortunes overtake him, he goes down to his grave leaving a heritage of debts and a clouded name to those who loved him and had a right to look to him for support.
He knows in his own soul that he was honest and meant well, but many would believe him dishonest and thriftless and shiftless, all because he knew not how or could not see the necessity of taking care of the pennies and living within his income.
In contrast to this man we will take one of the same age with less ability and much smaller earnings.
He looks around him, he sees the men who have made a success in life and the men who have failed.
Men who have started out with only their own energy, pluck and determination to aid them have made great fortunes, starting out with a mere pittance for wages or salary.
He thinks the matter over and compares the lives of the men around him. Soon comes to the conclusion—‘Tis not what a man makes, but what he saves, that totals his real worth.
He sees the man next to him earning far more than he—but this man s motto is live while you live, and he spends as fast as he makes.
So he determines within himself to practice thrift, to live within what he makes and save a little besides.
This he does faithful systematically, and in a few years an opportunity to invest wisely his savings presents itself, and soon he finds himself climbing more easily each succeeding round of the ladder of financial success.
Thrift affects our social, intellectual and religious life. Socially—by providing us with better surroundings, better homes, better clothes, etc.
Intellectually—by giving us more time and more money to devote to study, self-culture, art, literature, travel—all that pertains to culture and refinement.
Religiously—by giving us the means not only to be good, but to do good. Yes, thrift affects both our religious and personal life as well as social and business life.
The thrifty man practices self denial, the doing without some things he thinks are almost necessary, the curbing of appetite, the determination to give up some longed for pleasure—but all such denials repay many fold by giving great strength of character, the power to conquer one’s self. When a man masters himself, then he is able to rule others.
Thrift in regard to physical life will not permit one to waste his strength, to use up his energies by useless and frivolous use of time.
It teaches that he must have proper recreation, proper food and proper rest.
Thrift teaches us to become master of self instead of slave to personal desires.
It teaches holding ones physical being in subjection to his better self-economy of strength, economy of time, economy of earnings.
To practice thrift, avoid the little leaks—the spending of little driblets here and there.
Save the pennies, the nickels, the dimes, and succeed you must and will.
Be as thrifty as the thrifty bee, laying by in the summer time of youth for the winter of old age.
You have witnessed tonight the results that generally follow perseverance, all of which go hand in hand with thrift.
Noble Bee: Conduct Humble Bee to King Bee for further instructions.
King Bee: Humble Bee, remember the lesson tonight. Carry it with you, and may you profit by it, I now create you a Thrifty Bee, and confer upon you the degree of Thrift.
King Bee: Watchman, conduct the Thrifty Bee to the anteroom for further orders.
The Ritual for the Order of Bees for Boys and Girls
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. (1922).
Ritual for the Order of Bees for boys and girls … Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/8c6456cc-3182-54d6-e040-e00a18063e04
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