If you’re from Manchester, you already know, but since web pages tend to leak outside their town of origin, you might be reading this abroad – like in London.
The Manchester Bee is a symbol invented for Manchester by its local government in the city’s economic glory days, when it was ground-zero of the industrial revolution.
A slightly heavy-handed emblem of sheer hard work, it had a mixed reception at the time because Mancunians, with our strong radical tradition and individuality don’t think of ourselves as just worker drones. Queen Bee would be more like it!
But the worker bee appeared on public and private hardware for many decades, from the town hall’s tiled floors, (see above,) to litter bins. It remains the symbol of Boddington’s beer, whose famous Manchester brewery was just a slate’s throw from Strangeways Prison.
The Manchester Bee was in the midst of a spontaneous revival in early 2017. It was just a trend, reflecting the latest wave of happy Manc-consciousness. Bee tattoos were appearing on your friends and workmates and breeding fast.
Then on 22 May, the wicked and obscene bomb attack on the Manchester Arena that claimed 23 lives brought Mancunians and their friends together as never before. A symbol was needed.
The bee was there.