“Oh, You Dear Busy Bees”
Mary Baker Eddy’s beehive, a gift from the Busy Bees. 0.1993
(Updated December 2021)
In 1890 work was actively taking place to fund the building of The Mother Church in Boston. In October of that year Maurine Campbell, who worked in The Christian Science Publishing Society, developed an idea to start a Young People’s Fund to help the cause. She pledged $1,000 dollars to the fund.
A couple of days later Campbell had another idea, to start a children’s fund for building a room in the new church. Intended for Mary Baker Eddy, it would be called “Mother’s Room.” For this, Campbell pledged $500 dollars. Letters were sent to children around the country, and in a few months’ time the money was raised.
On March 1, 1891, 12 Boston Sunday School children were called together and asked if they wanted to help with the building fund. They were eager to help out. The following week each child was given 10 cents. They were to make use of these “talents” (see Matthew, Chapter 25) and discover what they could do in three months’ time with their dimes. In order to raise money, the children bought supplies and crafted all sorts of things to sell. Among the many items for sale were paper dolls, popcorn, flowers, aprons, rose bushes, cakes, and soap.
Campbell coined the name “Busy Bees” for these children. Once when she saw how hard they were working, she remarked, “Oh you dear Busy Bees!” That name remained in use until the work was completed. A notice in the April 1891 Christian Science Journal extended the invitation for all children to become coworkers.1
In an April 16, 1891, letter to Campbell, Eddy expressed her delight: “Only think of having these gems of childhood character among the foundation stones for the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston!”2
At a June 1891 meeting the children received wooden beehive banks, in which to store the money they raised for the coming months. They were happy and excited to continue with their work. In the years that followed, the Bees continued to meet and contribute their earnings.
On January 6, 1895, The Mother Church and Mother’s Room were dedicated, with 220 Busy Bees in attendance. Each child was received a mosaic tile like the ones used for the flooring of the Mother’s Room. The tiles were inscribed “Mother’s Room 1894.” The children were also given badges to wear in commemoration of the day, which were white with “Mother’s Room” printed in gold lettering, along with the image of a tiny beehive. Badges and tiles were also sent to the Bees who could not be there on dedication day. The children were first to visit Mother’s Room that day, with thousands of other people passing through the room as well.
Eddy wrote to a student about the dedication day:
…Also have the children “Busy Bees” seated on the front pews. They will wear badges simply “Mothers Room” I have named them in my Sermon.3
The Busy Bees also signed a tablet, or autograph book, on the occasion. Bound in white celluloid with gold lettering, it was later sent to Eddy. She was also given a small onyx beehive, which held the key to a large onyx hive that contained the names of the Busy Bees. This small hive sat on the whatnot in her home.
The children had raised over $5,000 dollars by dedication day, after which they were asked to stop sending in donations. Remaining funds were eventually used to set up a trust fund. Years later the money was distributed to over 2000 Busy Bees.
- Maurine R. Campbell, “Home and Children’s Department,” The Christian Science Journal, April 1891, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/c2kwnhgc0g?s=t
- Mary Baker Eddy to Maurine R. Campbell, 16 April 1891, L05781.
- Mary Baker Eddy, 1 January 1895, L00081.