Could it bee?
Where did the Manchester Bee come from?
Manchester is recognised worldwide, primarily for its two football teams, Manchester United and Manchester City.
Sadly, Manchester was brought crashing into the world’s media for a very different reason on 22nd May 2017. An individual had done the unthinkable and committed a terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande was performing to her young fan base. That night 22 innocent people lost their lives as a result of this individual’s callous actions.
The reason I am mentioning this is that as a result of the tragedy, loss and heartbreak felt, Manchester showed the world something. Manchester isn’t just a city, it’s a community, there are many positives and negatives to any city, day to day sometimes people don’t get on. What this awful tragedy showed the world was how a city can come together. It showed an unbreakable bond, one where people from all backgrounds, social status, wealth and poverty stand firm as an unbreakable force to be reckoned with. In the days that followed everyone came together and stood as one, it shocked the world more than the horrific event the way Manchester responded in the face of terror.
So, where am I going with this? People wanted a way to show support for Manchester, show they were Mancunian and how proud they were to be part of Manchester, show it wasn’t just somewhere they were born or live it’s who they are. Lots of people in the coming days and weeks decided to have the Manchester Bee tattooed on their body.
Artists graffitied the streets (in a positive way), social media profile pictures were changed all to the Manchester Bee. The bee became (no pun intended) the symbol of Manchester, synonymous with the city and what Mancunians stood for.
So, this is where the popularity of the bee came from and where it gained a global audience, but the Manchester Bee dates back way before this horrific day in 2017.
The History of the Manchester Bee
The Manchester Bee dates way back to the start of the industrial revolution in the mid-1700s. The industrial revolution marked the start of a time when things started to be mass produced. Manchester and it’s surrounding areas were particularly well-known for cotton related manufacture.
As Manchester got stuck in, leading the way for mass production the bee gained in popularity as it symbolised the worker bee, Manchester became known for hard-working people all working together as you would see in a colony of bees. The mills and workplaces were also seen as a hive of activity which only added to the bee synonym.
In 1842 the bee was officially incorporated into the Manchester coat of arms.
Several big brands over the years from Manchester have incorporated the Manchester Bee in one form or another into their branding and logo.
Boddingtons the famous Manchester brewery used the bee to form part of its logo in the 1970s, depicting a barrel and two bees. Manchester City for their 2009/2010 away kit incorporated a bee theme into their kit design with a black shirt with yellow shoulder inserts. Manchester University was one of the first brands to adopt the bee and it features as part of their coat of arms.
The Manchester Bee can be seen all over the city if you look closely enough. From lampposts to street signs. It even features as part of a mosaic floor in the Manchester town hall.
In 2004 Manchester saw “CowParade”, where giant fibreglass cows were decorated in glorious colours and designs and placed all over the city for people to spot and admire.
In 2018 we had “Bee in the City”, with over 80 1.5 metre fibreglass bees descending on Manchester.
The art campaign again brought families and friends together to find the bees that were hidden in shops, restaurants, on the streets all over the city. It showed once again what Manchester stood for and brought a real community spirit flooding back into Manchester.
Old or New
As you can see, whether you were aware of Manchester’s Bee history, or became aware of it as a result of the 2017 tragedy, Manchester is alive with bees! They stand as a symbol of the people, the city, the spirit. One that is bonded, unbroken, a United City that in the face of whatever the world throws its way it will survive, adapt, overcome and be stronger than ever before.