Pic Belinda Hastie

As you wander past Cathedral Gardens, you might be surprised to find that things are a little bit lively on the rooftops.

That’s because Canon Adrian Rhodes and his team of volunteer apiarists – that’s beekeepers to you and me – have been looking after colonies of Manchester bees on the roof of the cathedral and over at the Printworks since 2011.

The 300,000 bees have been largely unnoticed, going about the business of foraging around in the Medieval Quarter and making their Heavenly Honey in secret. Until now.

As part of an initiative to highlight Manchester Cathedral’s programme to help people find work through volunteering, infra-red cameras have been installed on the roof and inside one of the hives.

To launch this new initiative, the Cathedral is hosting a free event this Saturday, 2nd September.

On a Wing and a Prayer will give visitors a chance to find out more about the art of urban beekeeping.

Canon Rhodes, a trustee of the Manchester and District Beekeeping Association, regularly uses liturgical incense in his smoker – a device used to keep the bees calm. It’s less for the bees, more to keep himself cool and relaxed.

“Beekeeping is such a fascinating and varied craft,” says Canon Rhodes. “Never a dull moment – and always something more to learn from these incredible creatures.

“I have been very encouraged on how this part of the programme has helped many long-term unemployed find work.”

This is your chance to meet Canon Rhodes, explore the Human Hives art installations, watch a livestream feed from the roof and discover the bees hidden in the historic fabric of this beautiful church.

Entertain your friends, family and visitors for free and eke out one last summer Saturday before the serious business of returning to work and school starts with a vengeance next week.

“What started as a very casual conversation between cathedral architect John Pritchard and myself has resulted in this amazing project,” says Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender.

“We feel that we can not only do our bit for the environment in this historic quarter but also help people back into work by providing a volunteering experience with a difference.”

The event is part of a season-long programme of surprising events at Manchester Cathedral.

Heavenly Honey will be available to buy from St Denys’ Bookshop and Propertea café in the Cathedral Visitor Centre from late September.

On a Wing and a Prayer Saturday 2nd September from 11am until 4pm. Meet the Beekeeper talks at 11am and 2pm. All events are free and tickets are not required. For more information click here.

What's on your mind?