Along with being the location for the After The Bees exhibition, Manchester Museum is home to two hives, both housed on the roof of the Rutherford Building next door. The project started with one back in 2013, with Sam Beath, Sally Thellwell, Stephen Devine, Bob O’Connor, who look after the bees, undergoing 12 months of training beforehand. Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t collect enough honey to sell, so it is raffled off each year, with the proceeds given to charity or put back into buying beekeeping equipment.
These aren’t the first beehives to be housed by the Museum. During the 1980’s, an Observatory Hive was located on the Oxford Road facing balcony on the third floor of the building, where The Study is now sited.
The museum features the bees and the hives as part of their Big Saturdays events, using them to dispel myths around bees and to champion their importance as pollinators. The hives also tie into the museum’s Egyptian exhibit, which a contains a 3 thousand year old Terracotta Drain that formed part of a beehive, a system still in use to this day in Egypt.
In addition, the city’s first Bee Summit took place at the Museum in September 2015, organised by Manchester Friends of the Earth and Manchester: A Certain Future. The event played host to councils, universities, museums, housing associations, football clubs, allotment and park groups, beekeepers and scientists.