This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Arizona publication of The Beehive newspaper. Yet, its roots began 10 years before that.
Today, after more than three decades, the name The Beehive seems even more appropriate today than when it was first coined in 1975. 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 in Las Vegas when Sister Taylor was tasked with producing a newsletter for her ward. Charlene Taylor explained, “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.”
From this humble beginning, The Beehive transformed into a publication 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. The first issue was an eight-page publication, all in black and white, with no paid advertisements.
From 1975 to 1990, Richard and Charlene, with help from their oldest daughter, Tamara, performed the duties of publisher for The Beehive. In 1990, their eldest son, Russell, returned to Las Vegas 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 Hartmann) who hailed from Mesa, Ariz. 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 decided 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 The Beehive Newspaper for the Saints of Arizona.
In October 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. 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 brought her rich experience and many years of writing and editing as the first editor of the Arizona Beehive. In the late 1990s, when Marsha quit to care for her husband who was ill, Cecily Markland assumed the editing duties and continues in that capacity today.
Cecily studied journalism at Brigham Young University, then at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. An experienced reporter, she had written as a stringer for the Ogden Standard Examiner and, after moving to Arizona, for the Gilbert Independent newspaper. To date, she has written more than 600 newspaper and magazine articles. She writes a number of articles and a column for each issue of The Beehive, as well as overseeing a team of freelance writers, including regular columnists, Jill Adair, Linda Turley-Hansen and Kristie Fairbanks, who contribute to The Beehive.
Today, rounding out The Beehive staff are Michael O’Brien (sales representative), two freelance graphic designers—Leslie Thompson and Chris Molitor—and staff photographer, John Power with Biltmore Photo.
In 2002, Russell and his wife, Amie, sold the Nevada Beehive to concentrate their efforts on the Arizona Beehive. 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 (including 54 Fry’s, 23 Albertsons, 11 7-Elevens, 2 Kmarts and 23 local LDS businesses) and is mailed to over 9,000 LDS members.
In the end though, what is most important is the “good” that the original “Good News” newspaper shares with others.
In addition to highlighting countless acts of service and individual accomplishments, the Beehive has chronicled the growth of the Church in Arizona.
“As Beehive writers, we have had the privilege of sharing stories about how faithful Saints in Arizona are working to build the kingdom,” Cecily says, “and we’ve documented contributions of the early Arizona pioneers as well as the tremendous strides forward in recent years.”
For example, The Beehive has featured cover stories about the announcement, construction and dedication of the temples in Snowflake and the Gila Valley, and has reported on three additional temples announced for Arizona, which are now under construction in Phoenix, Gilbert and Tucson.
The Beehive recently highlighted the welfare services in Arizona and, another issue, shared the many projects conducted by Arizona Saints as part of Make a Difference Day. The Beehive has also published a number of articles about missionary work, including several missionary experiences and conversion stories as well as an article about how the lowering of age for service has affected Arizona Saints and another article that shared details about two new missions that opened in Arizona following this announcement.
The recently redesigned Beehive website—at www.arizonabeehive.com–a archives articles from each issue, lists businesses that advertise with the Beehive and tells the locations where the Beehive is distributed. The Beehive also has a Facebook page where articles from the paper along with frequent updates are posted. Readers are invited to “like” the Facebook page to leave comments there as well (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Beehive-Newspaper). In addition, interested individuals can sign up for “The Bee-line,” an emailed newsletter with events and activities of interest to Arizona Saints and their families. To sign up for “The Bee-line” email firstname.lastname@example.org, with “add” in the subject line.
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 difference to the Saints here in Arizona,” Sister Hartmann says.