After three decades, the name The Beehive seems even more appropriate today than when it was first coined in 1975. The LDS newspaper that was started as a ward Relief Society newsletter has grown over the years into two major publications serving over 400,000 Latter-day Saints in Nevada and Arizona, while providing a sense of community and commonality among the Saints in the Southwest. Indeed, it could be said that The Beehive, founded by Richard and Charlene Taylor, has been “abuzz” since its beginnings 38 years ago, sharing events and accomplishments and striving to provide a source for the many acts of service that Saints contribute in their communities. The seeds for what would become The Beehive began in early 1975. Brother Taylor explains that, “The idea for The Beehive Newspaper came when my wife received a calling to write a newsletter for the Las Vegas 9th Ward Relief Society.” It didn’t take long before the phone was ringing at the Taylor household with news and events various sisters in the 9th Ward wanted included in the newsletter. Sister Taylor explains, “The sisters would even try to find me in the halls on Sundays because they had yet another story they wanted to report for the next edition of the Relief Society paper. The newsletter became an enormous success.” Then, one day, as Brother Taylor was listening to his wife chatting to one of the ward sisters on the phone, the thought came to him, “Why not start a newspaper in the Las Vegas area for the fast growing Mormon population? A newspaper for and about Latter-day Saints. A newspaper that would let every reader know about upcoming events and the good deeds being performed by Church members in the Las Vegas valley.” Brother Taylor was tired of all of the “bad news” that seemed to be on every page of the local newspaper. He, instead, wanted there to be a “good news” newspaper that was uplifting and positive. At the time the Taylors owned the second largest burglar alarm company in Las Vegas and had four children (Tamara, Russell, Tina, and Ron) in junior high school and high school, so there was very little spare time for Richard and Charlene to commit to starting a valley-wide newspaper. But after much thought and prayer, the Taylors decided that what they would be providing to Church members in Las Vegas would be of such great value that they would somehow find the time in their busy lives to start the newspaper.
Both Charlene and Richard knew that for any LDS-related newspaper to be successful in Las Vegas, the local church leaders would need to be supportive of it. So the first thing the Taylors did was to create a four page paste-up of their proposed newspaper that they named “The Beehive,” which they presented, along with their ideas for the paper, to every stake president in the Las Vegas valley. Charlene notes, “Every one of the stake presidents gave us their blessing, so we went right to work on our first issue of The Beehive.” The first issue was an 8-page publication, all in black and white, with no paid advertisements. Under the basic Beehive logo were the words, “The Good News Newspaper,” a caption that remained on the masthead for over 25 years. With no mail list to work with, the Taylors resorted to distributing the first issue of their paper at various Church events in the valley. The whole Taylor family would pile into their family station wagon, with bundles of newspapers on everybody’s laps, and head out to a ward or stake event to pass out copies of the The Beehive. Well, it didn’t take long for The Beehive to take off, proving that there was indeed an audience that was interested in the good news and the family-oriented stories and events promoted through this fledgling periodical. One of the best perks for Charlene as co-publisher of The Beehive was the opportunity to meet with renowned and revered Church members. Over the years, The Beehive has had the opportunity to interview Steve Young, Marie Osmond, Senator Harry Reid, and numerous LDS Church leaders from the Las Vegas area as well as Salt Lake City. Charlene explains, “I loved writing stories and taking pictures and talking with Church members. We even got to interview apostles and attend and report from General Conference meetings in Salt Lake. But the best part of all was when we would get a phone call or a letter telling us that someone had had their testimony strengthened by something they read in The Beehive. It was a similar feeling when someone would find us and say, ‘I found out about your Church through The Beehive and I was baptized and am now a member.’”
From 1975 to 1990 Richard and Charlene, with help from their oldest daughter Tamara, performed the duties of publisher for The Beehive. In 1990, Charlene fell ill from fibromyalgia and no longer had the strength or stamina to continue spending the countless hours required to compile all of the stories that were included in each monthly issue of the paper. As luck would have it, their eldest son, Russell, returned to Las Vegas that year after two years of school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he received his master’s of business administration degree. With his mother too sick to continue publishing the family paper, Russell offered his assistance to keep the legacy going. One of Russell’s first moves as interim publisher was to expand the sales staff of The Beehive. At the time one of the staff writers for the paper knew Linda Leavitt (now Linda Hartmann) who hailed from Mesa, Arizona. Linda was living in Las Vegas working part-time at the District Court on the Jury Commission. Knowing that Linda had previously worked as an advertising sales executive for a small LDS newspaper in Arizona called “The Arizona Latter-day Journal,” the staff writer suggested that Linda apply with The Beehive as a sales representative. Linda was hired immediately and her sales experience and professionalism allowed The Beehive to increase its scope of news coverage and distribution in Las Vegas almost immediately. In 1993, Linda had to make a difficult decision in her life. Although she loved her position at The Beehive and had experienced numerous accomplishments, she felt that she needed to move back to Arizona. Knowing that she could have similar success with an LDS newspaper in her home state, Linda proposed the idea to Russell of starting a Beehive Newspaper for the Saints of Arizona. Russell, knowing the history of the many small LDS newspapers in Arizona that had ceased production, was at first skeptical. However, when Linda explained to him that there were nearly 300,000 Latter-day Saints in Arizona (versus about 100,000 in Nevada at the time), it didn’t take long for Russell to see the possibility for a successful Beehive Newspaper in Arizona.
In early 1993 Linda moved back to Mesa and continued to sell advertising for the Nevada paper while working to get The Beehive off the ground in Arizona. She brought in Marsha Ward, who recruited other writers to provide the editorial content. Linda also enlisted the help of Sherry Huffaker, who served as a regional sales executive. In October of 1993, Linda’s vision for an Arizona Beehive became a reality as a small 12-page black and white publication rolled off the presses in Las Vegas destined for distribution in LDS bookstores throughout Arizona. Brother Taylor notes, “The sole reason there is a Beehive Newspaper in Arizona is because of Linda Leavitt Hartmann. She was able to make a LDS newspaper work in a state that had seen at least four other newspapers fail. Linda’s commitment to what we are doing and what we believe in at The Beehive has never wavered. She is truly a special person who the entire Taylor family, as well as The Beehive family, owes a huge debt of gratitude.” Since the founding of the Arizona Beehive in 1993, The Beehive has seen many changes. Marsha Ward, who served as the paper’s editor for the first five years, was relieved of her duties in the late 1990s to care for her husband who was battling terminal cancer. Sister Ward, who is the founder of American Night Writers Association, has since continued her writing career as the editor and publisher of a newsletter for writers and of two small magazines. Cecily Markland assumed the duties as The Beehive editor from Marsha Ward and continues in that capacity today. Cecily writes a number of articles and a column for each issue of the paper, as well as oversees a team of 10 freelance writers who contribute to The Beehive. “Working with The Beehive has brought a great deal of joy into my life,” Sister Markland states. “It’s incredibly rewarding to have the privilege of hearing stories about the Saints in this area and the wonderful things they are doing to spread the gospel, develop their talents, and bless the lives of others around them.” In 2002 Russell sold the Nevada Beehive to concentrate his efforts on the Arizona Beehive and to share more family time with his new wife, Amie.
In 2003 Russell decided to pursue a career in commercial and residential real estate and turned over all of the responsibilities for The Beehive to his wife. Amie, who is originally from Myanmar (formerly Burma), is a 1997 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and is a convert to the Church. Amie was baptized by her husband in 2003. Russell and Amie have two children: Shane, 10, and Malea, 8. With Linda, Cecily and Amie working together as a team, the Arizona Beehive has grown from the original 1993 edition that had a print run of 5,000 copies and 10 distribution locations, to become the largest regional LDS newspaper in the United States.
Each quarterly edition of The Beehive distributes 40,000 copies among its 113 distribution locations throughout the Phoenix metro area and is mailed to over 9,000 LDS members.
Sister Taylor says that while all involved with the Arizona Beehive are excited about the growth of The Beehive and what they all have accomplished over the last 12 years in Arizona and 30 years collectively, she sees even greater opportunities for the future. Amie says the size of the Arizona Beehive has grown substantially, from the original 12-page Arizona edition to a paper that is consistently 64 pages or larger. And there is a continued focus to get a copy of The Beehive in the hands on all the Latter-day Saints who would like to read the paper. As Sister Taylor explains,
“Even though we are reaching 60,000 to 70,000 Saints with each issue, there are many more members in Arizona who are not receiving a copy of The Beehive. Our goal this year and every year is to distribute more copies with every issue that comes off of the printing press.”
In addition to increasing the subscription base, Sister Taylor sees The Beehive becoming even more involved in activities, in sponsoring LDS-related events across the state, and in doing even more to create a sense of community and camaraderie among the Saints in Arizona. In the end though, what is most important is the “good” that the original “Good News” newspaper shares with others. Sister Hartmann states, “The Beehive is making a difference to members and non-members all over Arizona.” She adds, “I get letters in the mail about people who have joined the Church because of The Beehive, or letters thanking me for something they’ve read or seen in the paper.” “The Beehive is changing lives, touching hearts, and making a major different to the Saints here in Arizona,” Sister Hartman says.