About the Manchester Bee
The Bee has been a symbol of Manchester ever since seven bees were incorporated into the city’s new coat of arms in 1842. At the time, Manchester was at the centre of the Industrial Revolution and the bee is an ancient symbol of industry. In fact, it is the most common insect to appear on coats of arms, so their incorporation into Manchester’s new design was an obvious inclusion. Their placement over a globe highlights Manchester’s global links at the time, with 60% of the world’s cotton being processed in Manchester, 80% of which came from America.
As a demonstration of civic pride, the city’s coat of arms began being incorporated into many buildings being built around this time, which is why it can be found on many buildings all across over the city, which you can see if you look up as you walk around the city. It’s from this starting point that the bee began to become an important emblem to the city.
About the Manchester Bees Project
The Manchester Bees project began in June 2012, with the aim of answering one simple question:
“How many bees are there to find around Manchester City Centre?”
The above thought occurred when I found and photographed the above bee design, located alongside the Rochdale canal. I was aware of the bollards, of course. Dotted all over Manchester City Centre, almost all of them bear the imprint of a bee. I was also aware of Manchester’s coat of arms, with its bees encircling the globe at its top. But how many Bees appeared on and in Manchester’s buildings? I set up the original original Manchester Bees website as a way of finding out.
It quickly became obvious that there were a great deal more than I had expected. From the Palace Hotel clock face bees, to the mosaic bees of Manchester Town Hall, to the Street Sweeper bees of Manchester Day. As the project developed and I kept finding more and more bees, I became interested in finding out how their history and how they’d become integrated into the fabric of the city and its people, which eventually lead to the creation of this website.
I still don’t yet know the answer to the question, and I doubt I ever will. New bees keep appearing all the time, especially now that the Manchester bombing brought the bee to international attention and prominence.
About the Author
Gareth Hacking is a Manchester based photographer who has been documenting Manchester for the past ten years. For more information on his work and other projects, please visit www.garethhacking.co.uk.