What is the Manchester bee (and why is it so important)?

Last Updated: 5 September 2022

The Manchester bee is an image of a worker bee which symbolises Manchester’s hard-working, industrial past. In more recent times, however, it has taken on a slightly different meaning, coming to represent the city’s unshakeable spirit. For this particular blog, we’ve looked into the history of this symbol to see why it is so important to many of the city’s inhabitants.

The ‘busy bees’ of industrial Britain

Manchester is a name that is synonymous with Britain’s industrial past. During the 19th century, the city was one of the leading industrial centres in the UK, especially for the production of cotton and other textiles. So much so that some even came to know it as Cottonopolis. As a result of Mancunian’s toil in the textile mills, the mills were often described as ‘hives of activity’ and those working in them were compared to bees.

This reputation for hard work and industriousness culminated with the image of a worker bee being incorporated onto the coat of arms that was given to the city back in 1842. Today, you can see this symbol of Manchester’s hardworking spirit in various locations around the city, including:

  • On a fountain in Cathedral Gardens
  • A bollard on John Dalton Street
  • The clock face of the Palace Hotel
  • The side of a building in Northern Quarter
  • On the mosaic flooring at Manchester Town Hall
  • Above the arches of Links of London

A unified city after the Manchester terror attacks

The traumatic events of the Manchester terror attack that took place back on 22 May 2017 resulted in 22 people losing their lives and many more being injured. After these events, the worker bee became a symbol of solidarity amongst Mancunians, demonstrating the unconquerable spirit of the city.

In remembrance of the victims, a mural of 22 worker bees was also emblazoned on the side of the Koffee Pot building in the Northern Quarter. Others added the image of the bee to their social media profiles whilst some even got it tattooed on their bodies.

Bees are well-known for the way they work together, meaning its use was very fitting during a time where the whole city was in mourning.

To many residents of Manchester, the image of a worker bee transcends the city’s industrial past and is a big part of who they are as Mancunians.

Here at Reddish Joinery, we’ve been fortunate enough to have served the city and its inhabitants for over 50 years, and we like to think we embody its working spirit whenever we work there. For more information on our products & services, call 0161 969 7474 or contact us online.

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