How Beehive Hairdos Worked

History of the Beehive Hairdo

woman in the 1960s having a cocktail with a date
Hot date in the 1960s? A beehive would do very nicely.
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In the 1950s, a hairstyle known as the bouffant sent women all over the United States running to drug stores for cans of hairspray. The bouffant is tall and wide, and the ends of the hair flip over or under. With the creation of the beehive, however, women would lose the width and focus solely on how high they could pile their hair.

The beehive was created in 1960 by Chicago stylist Margaret Vinci Heldt. Heldt was asked by the editors of Modern Beauty Salon magazine to create a new hairdo that would spice up the world of beauty. Heldt designed the beehive by thinking about a velvet fez that she owned. The cap had beaded decorations that looked like bees, but more importantly, the tall hat didn't leave Heldt with hat hair after she wore it. Heldt wanted to create a style that maintained its shape, the way the hat maintained her hair. Thanks to that black hat, the beehive was born.


The beehive was an instant success. Women were already in love with the big hair trend, thanks to the bouffant, and the longer-lasting beehive was a timesaver. Women could sleep with their hive in a scarf, smooth away the loose strands in the morning, and be ready to go. Heldt's only advice to her customers was to warn their husbands to keep those hands out of the hair during romantic moments [source: Mannion].

The beehive remains a popular style option today, and it has even survived some bad word of mouth. In the 1960s, a popular urban legend claimed that women with beehives were dying because spiders or other deadly bugs took up residence in the hive. has declared this legend false.

Want your hair to reach for the skies? Find out how to style your own beehive hairdo on the next page.