The Bees of Manchester

If you have visited Manchester then I am sure you will have spotted a few bees dotted around city and if you are from Manchester I’m sure you know someone with a Manchester bee tattoo! These bees are everywhere, I’ve seen them:

  1. decorating the floor of the town hall
  2. emblazoned on the bins
  3. on some of the ageing brickwork
  4. on bollards
  5. in stained glass windows
  6. in logos for Mancunian businesses
  7.  even taking part in the Pride parade!

Although I’m a Mancunian I have often found myself asking “why is the bee so significant to Manchester?”

The importance of the bee symbol harks back to the industrial revolution. During this era Manchester was given the nickname ‘Cottonopolis’ as it became well known for it’s hand in the textile industry. It has also been called the worlds first industrial city! Throughout this time the workers of Manchester’s many factories were compared to bees due to their hard work and perseverance in difficult factory conditions.

At the end of the industrial revolution in 1842 Manchester incorporated seven bees into it’s coat of arms. This was a nod to the idea of Manchester as a hive of industrial activity as well as recognition to those who worked in the factories and made Manchester the industrious city it came to be known as.

Arms of the City of Manchester.svg

The crest of Manchester. can you spot the small bees at the top?

Since 1842 the worker bee symbol has become synonymous with Manchester and is often used in local artists, such as The Manchester bee company, in their work to symbolise Mancunian pride. Similarly many Mancunians wear bee badges to show off their links to the city.

Next time you’re in Manchester see how many bees you can find, I bet it’ll be more than you expect!


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