Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 18

Thread: Beehive Brouhaha History

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    23

    Default Beehive Brouhaha History

    [NOTE: I believe that "conventional wisdom" in this case reflects the views of numerous respected authors and pretty much everyone else that I have seen address the subject matter in this forum or elsewhere (i.e., people that know a lot more about H-D than I ever will). This post is intended to be factual and educational (for me if no one else). This post is not directed at, or intended to disparage or disrespect, any person or persons, much less all of the people that agree with what may be conventional wisdom. As a newbie, it's sometimes difficult for me to distinguish sarcastic and serious discussions. But, I get the sense that, although you guys may not always agree, most of you genuinely care about the history and the facts and are willing to help educate others.

    I have enjoyed the long-running beehive discussions, but struggled to understand them and why it may or may not be "correct" or "incorrect" to refer to any particular tail light as a beehive tail light. I respectfully disagree with conventional wisdom as to what H-D called tail light 5051-34 (aka the 34-38 tail light) (the "34 Tail Light"), but I may be alone in this regard. When one person thinks something and everyone else thinks something else, it's often because that person is wrong. I have attempted to summarize my understanding of the subject matter below. Please correct me if I am wrong about anything or everything.]

    According to conventional wisdom, H-D called the 34 Tail Light the beehive in certain literature. I have not been able to find any such literature, but may have simply failed to find some announcement or bulletin that many of you have or have seen. However, to my knowledge, H-D has never named, described, or otherwise referred to any tail light as a beehive.

    As to the 34 Tail Light, I believe that H-D named it "Tail lamp" in the name column of parts catalogs and referred to it as the "Air-Flo Tail Light" (and "Air-Flo tail light" and "tail light" and possibly "Tail Lamp and Hood") in other literature.

    I believe that H-D has used the term beehive as an adjective to describe the shape of, and otherwise to refer to, various beehive-type lenses (e.g., sidecar fender lamp, tail light, and parking light beehive-type lenses). However, to my knowledge, H-D has named only one (1) such beehive-type lens as a beehive and has never named any other part as a beehive.

    I believe that H-D named sidecar fender lamp lens 13401-35A as "Red bee-hive lens" in the name column of parts catalogs and used the term beehive to describe and refer to such lens in other literature (e.g., "RED bee-hive lens" and "red beehive lens").

    As to tail light lens 5054-35, I believe that H-D named such lens "Red glass for tail lamp" in the name column of parts catalogs and used the term beehive to describe and refer to such lens in other literature (e.g., "A new beehive type lens has been fitted to the tail light." and "...new beehive lens featured on the tail lights of the 1935 models..."); and that other parties (e.g., motorcycle magazines) also used the term beehive to describe and refer to such lens (e.g., "The tail light lens is of a new beehive design. This accounts for the slightly longer appearance of the tail light assembly." and "...the tail light assembly with bee hive lens...").

    To the extent that the terms "beehive" and "tail light" are used together in H-D literature, I believe that they are used together only a few times and only immediately prior to the term "lens" (e.g., "beehive tail light lens") and only then as adjectives to describe the shape or appearance of the subject lens; and the context makes it clear that the term beehive refers only to the subject "beehive type lens" or "beehive lens" and not to any "tail light" or "tail lights of the 1935 models."

    As to tail light and tail light lens references in 1935 model literature, I believe that the lens was the only part of the tail light that changed from the 1934 models to the 1935 models (i.e., the Air-Flo tail light with lens 5054-20 simply became the Air-Flo tail light with lens 5054-35). So, it makes sense to me that H-D would tout the new lens in 1935 model literature. However, I don't believe that H-D touted a new tail light in 1935 model literature or started referring to the 34 Tail Light as the Beehive tail light (i.e., as opposed to the Air-Flo tail light).

    As to the beehive debate, I don't know when or why it became common to refer to any particular tail light as a beehive tail light, but I understand that more than one (1) tail light is currently, commonly known as a beehive. I'm generally against using the same term to refer to different things where confusion or ambiguity may result. I just don't understand the "what H-D called it" arguments when it comes to beehives.
    Fletcher Clark Johnston
    AMCA #282

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    North Hills, CA and Pine Grove, CA
    Posts
    5,442

    Default


    Be sure to visit;
    http://www.vintageamericanmotorcycles.com/main.php
    Be sure to register at the site so you can see large images.
    Also be sure to visit http://www.caimag.com/forum/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Thank you Chris. Pretty much everything I know about beehives is owed to Palmer and you. I don't know where you currently stand on the subject of what H-D called the 34 tail light and what's correct and why. I wouldn't be shocked if someone posts some literature that scuttles my understanding of the facts. But, as to your reply, if the shape of the lens (as opposed to what H-D called the tail light) is a determining factor as to what's correct, then it may be correct to refer to each of the relevant tail lights as a beehive. A 39 lens most closely resembles a box-type beehive (i.e., the most common type since at least the 1800s). A sidecar beehive lens most closely resembles a skep-type beehive (i.e., the most common type in the 1700s). A 35 lens also resembles a skep-type beehive, but only when uninstalled and laid on its open side.

    When discussing this issue, Palmer has noted that, although skep-type beehives were generally replaced by box-type beehives, skep-type beehives could still be seen in the 1930s. For whatever reason, many (maybe most) people seem to think of a traditional, dome-shaped, skep-type beehive when they refer to a beehive or say that something resembles a beehive.

    The "Which one looks like a beehive?" photos that you typically post may pose a bit of a trick question. But, maybe it's intentional. The typical post only compares a 35 lens to a 39 tail light (and not a 34 tail light to a 39 tail light). And, the typical post only includes a photo of a skep-type beehive (and not also a box-type beehive). And, the typical post only includes a photo of a 35 lens laid on its open side (and not also a sidecar beehive lens or a 39 lens).

    Photo 1:


    [End]
    Fletcher Clark Johnston
    AMCA #282

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
    Posts
    1,304

    Default

    We seem today to call the 1934-38 taillight the beehive style, but nearly all the guys who were alive then are not now, so to some extent it is moot. Harley airbrushed their history relentlessly, so the 5054-35 lens soon became the 5054-20 lens because it fits back to then and they stopped making the flat lens. Likewise you can still find solo seats with a 1925 part number, which fit back to that date but are radically different from the half pan Mesingers actually used at that time. Even the term Art Deco was not coined until the 1960s, so features on those 1933-36 bikes I love so much were called modern, moderne, streamlined, airflow or hi-flo when they were new.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    North Hills, CA and Pine Grove, CA
    Posts
    5,442

    Default

    You just keep beating this dead horse don't you. H-D NEVER called the 1939-1946 tail light a Bee Hive. They did call it's predecessor the Bee Hive. If it has a Bee Hive lens it is a Bee Hive tail light.
    Be sure to visit;
    http://www.vintageamericanmotorcycles.com/main.php
    Be sure to register at the site so you can see large images.
    Also be sure to visit http://www.caimag.com/forum/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Menomonie, WI
    Posts
    1,254

    Default

    Chris HD also never called your beloved 1936 OHV Deluxe a Knucklehead either. Jerry



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Haynes View Post
    You just keep beating this dead horse don't you. H-D NEVER called the 1939-1946 tail light a Bee Hive. They did call it's predecessor the Bee Hive. If it has a Bee Hive lens it is a Bee Hive tail light.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    1,110

    Default

    And they don't call the new bike an M80.or the last one a twinkie..
    .but I can't help myself

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Haynes View Post
    You just keep beating this dead horse don't you. H-D NEVER called the 1939-1946 tail light a Bee Hive. They did call it's predecessor the Bee Hive. If it has a Bee Hive lens it is a Bee Hive tail light.
    I am not claiming that H-D called the 39 tail light a beehive. I am claiming that H-D never called the 34 tail light a beehive. Is that a dead horse? Has someone made this claim before? If so, I haven't seen it.

    I have seen many people (e.g., in books and this forum) claim that H-D called the 34 tail light a beehive. The claim is often made when someone is correcting someone else for mistakenly referring to the 39 tail light a beehive.

    It just seems inconsistent (and ironic) to (a) correct Easyriders and others for mistakenly referring to the 39 tail light as a beehive (based on the fact that H-D never called the 39 tail light a beehive) and (b) not correct people for mistakenly referring to the 34 tail light as a beehive (based on the fact that H-D never called the 34 tail light a beehive).

    Why aren't the correct police pointing out that H-D actually called the 34 tail light the Air-Flo tail light? It seems like someone somewhere along the way "mistakenly" referred to the 34 tail light as a beehive and it stuck.

    H-D could have named or called the 34 tail light a beehive if H-D wanted to. But, H-D didn't. H-D did call the 34 tail light the Air-Flo tail light and did name the red sidecar lens as a beehive and did refer to the 35 tail light lens as a beehive-type lens and a beehive lens. Maybe it would have been awkward for H-D's marketing department to turn around a year later in 1935 and try to rebrand the 34 tail light as something else when the only thing that changed for the 35 models was the lens.

    You may currently be claiming that the 34 tail light is a beehive because the 35 tail light lens is a beehive-type lens or otherwise resembles a beehive, but that is not the claim that people have been making for the last decade. And, if having a beehive-type lens is a determining factor for what's "correct," then it may be correct to call the sidecar fender lamp a beehive and call parking lights beehives.

    The literature you posted doesn't tout a beehive tail light. It touts a beehive-type lens. I have yet to see any H-D literature that contemporaneously called the 34 tail light a beehive. If I do, I will admit that I am wrong. I'm just trying to understand the rationale for why some things are "correct" or "incorrect."

    P.S. I have even seen discussions in forums about what beehives may or may not look like in Wisconsin. I saw bee nests when I lived in Wisconsin and they didn't look like skeps or boxes. I have not seen beehives anywhere (other than in photos), but I think it's illegal to use skep-type beehives in most states.
    Fletcher Clark Johnston
    AMCA #282

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    1,110

    Default

    Actually Fletcher,We have discussed this on the forums several times thru the years.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    North Hills, CA and Pine Grove, CA
    Posts
    5,442

    Default

    There are examples above of H-D calling it Bee Hive. Yet you chose to ignore it.
    Be sure to visit;
    http://www.vintageamericanmotorcycles.com/main.php
    Be sure to register at the site so you can see large images.
    Also be sure to visit http://www.caimag.com/forum/

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •