If you’re studying in Manchester, it’s only a matter of time before you see a bee symbol. They can be seen on walls, bins, and advertising boards. The University of Manchester coat of arms even features three bees. You might be wondering why there are so many bees around and what they mean to Manchester. Learning about the Manchester bee can be a great way of getting to know the city.
Manchester first started using the worker bee as a symbol during the Industrial Revolution. At the time, Manchester was one of the cities leading the way for an industrial change. The worker bee symbolised the hard work of every Mancunian, making the city a ‘hive of activity’ in the 19th century. The worker bee officially became part of the Manchester coat of arms in 1842.
‘Busy bee’ is a term that describes a hard worker, and Manchester has never lost sight of that. The HMS Manchester was nicknamed Busy Bee, with the symbol appearing on the ship’s crest.
Manchester also has a history of beekeeping, such as at The Printworks. In 2015, there were 32,000 honey bees living on the roof of The Printworks, having produced 213 jars of honey.
There are certain places in Manchester where the worker bee can be seen in detail. Look up at the Palace Hotel and you’ll see a bee on the clock face. If you visit Manchester Town Hall, the floor is decorated with bee mosaics.
With the recent bombing of Manchester Arena, the Manchester bee has become a symbol of unity. Walk around the Northern Quarter and you’ll see a lot of bee-related art. In Stevenson Square, there is an image of someone making a heart symbol, with a bee hovering over it.
If you want to get some food at the Koffee Pot in the Northern Quarter, you can admire the giant mural on the side that features twelve bees and a heart made out of honey.
The Manchester bee will continue to represent the city as a symbol of hard work and unity. There are many symbols associated with Manchester, and you’ll be able to learn about them all if you choose to study English Language at NCG.