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How the worker bee has come to symbolise the spirit of Manchester

The Manchester Worker Bee has taken our city by swarm

You can’t cross a street in the city centre without seeing a Manchester bee. It’s on bollards, planters and rubbish bins everywhere. Since the attack on our fair city, the worker bee has taken the world by storm. Or should I say, swarm.

Here’s a little history, a few facts you might not know and a chance to get your hands on a piece of exclusive civic pride.

The history of the Manchester Bee

So, why is this tiny creature a symbol for Manchester?

It’s come to stand as an emblem of our industrial past. The city was a hive of activity (pardon the pun) during the Industrial Revolution and workers were soon dubbed ‘busy bees.’ It’s this description that eventually just, well, stuck.

You won’t just find the bee on bins though. Next time you’re in town, instead of avoiding eye contact, thinking about food or staring at your phone, look up at the facades of the buildings around you. The bee can be seen on the clock face of the Palace Hotel, on the mosaic flooring at Manchester Town Hall, in St Ann’s Square above the Links of London store, in the stained glass of Lloyds Bank and in a hidden location at Manchester Art Gallery. Look out for them around the city. These little creatures have come to represent Manchester’s energy and solidarity. Resilient, peaceful, but with a sting in their tails.

Why have Mancunians been getting worker bee tattoos?

People have been flocking to tattoo parlours to honour the victims of the devastating Manchester Arena bombing. The attack led to 22 people being killed and many more injured in one of the worst terror attacks since 7/7. Plenty of tattooists around the city paid tribute to Manchester using the symbol and raised money for victims of the attack. Similarly, Ariana Grande and her team reportedly inked themselves with the symbol of our city. Artists from Manchester Ink joined the pop star and her Dangerous Woman tour crew backstage to apply the body art, following her hugely successful One Love concert.

But if you don’t want a permanent tattoo, or are too young to get one (you must be 18 or older to get an ink tattoo) yet still want to wear a bee with pride, why not try a temporary tattoo? Boxes of bee designs and ‘I Love MCR’ symbols are being distributed throughout the city – temporary transfers which you can pick up and apply yourself, costing £2, with all proceeds going to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. Keep your eyes peeled for a box of temporary tattoos coming to a retail store near you – such as Manchester Arndale and intu Trafford Centre.

That Mural in the Northern Quarter

A new Manchester mural has gone up in the city’s Northern Quarter. It was completed last weekend by graffiti artist Russell Meeham aka Qubek. He started painting the old toilet block in Stevenson Square with bees and two hands joined together in solidarity. It was after this moving token as a testament to the city’s strength that he was commissioned to create the mural on the side of the Koffee Pot on Oldham Street. As word spread about the work of art taking shape people came past to see what he was doing.

Tram 3022


Tram 3022 pays tribute to the spirit of Manchester. It features a design inspired by the worker bee. The tram also carried people travelling to Ariana’s One Love concert at Old Trafford cricket ground free of charge if they showed staff their concert ticket. Solidarity all around on this one.

The Neon Creations Worker Bee

Neon Creations have made the iconic Manchester Bee symbol into a neon sign, and they’re raffling this off to raise funds for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, to aid the victims, their families, and others caught up in the awful events at Manchester Arena. Click here to enter.

Worker Bee Street Art by Manc artist Virginia Ben

One of Manchester’s most exciting young artists, Ben Date, better known as Virginia Ben, has created a piece of work with the worker bee symbol at its centre. He’s a 24 year old artist from Moston with Mancunian blood flowing through his veins. He’s been painting since his teens and has worked with huge brands like Adidas, Jimmy Choo and even Ferrari. After Monday’s tragedy he took inspiration from the iconic bee as a symbol of strength and unity for the city. He told me that he also wrote ‘MCR’ hundreds of times in a variety of colours to “represent the city’s multicultural heritage and the people of all different cultures and backgrounds who make it up.”

Unity and strength is what our city does best.

Follow Ben on Twitter @fromvirginaben and Instagram @fromvirginaben

Manchester Worker Bee Mosaic £95

This Manchester Worker Bee Mosaic to mount on your wall will declare your respect for Manchester’s industrial heritage (12inch² and 2kg)

Purchase from our online shop here. All our mosaics are uniquely made to order so please allow up to 10 days for delivery. Nice one.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

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