Why does Manchester have a bee as its symbol?

Have you ever wondered why there are bees all over Manchester? Or maybe you’ve never visited our city before but you’ve seen the bee on some Manchester-associated logos. This tiny creature is the perfect representation of the very heart and history of Manchester, which we’d like to share with you today. 

Of course, we’d prefer to share this insight and stories about the city in person during one of our Manchester food tours! If you’re visiting soon and love to learn about local culture while enjoying local fare, get in touch and let’s explore together.

What does the Manchester bee represent?

The Manchester bee is all about the true story of the city. Back in 1842, the worker bee was added to the new Manchester coat of arms. Those little bees represent so much about the way Manchester forged a new path for itself during the Industrial Revolution. 

In fact, did you know the global Industrial Revolution actually began right here in Manchester? We wrote all about it if you’re keen to learn more: Why Did The Industrial Revolution Start In Manchester?

The Manchester bee represents the hardworking Mancunians and the hive of activity that Manchester became during this era. As industry changed this city, so it changed the entire world. As a single bee contributes to the hive, so do all Mancunians contribute to the fascinating, diverse, fabulous city that we all call home. 

Speaking of Mancunians…you did know that’s what the people of Manchester are called, right? 

Going Beyond Industrial Manchester

In case you didn’t yet know, you have Manchester to thank for a great many things! From The Stone Roses to Alan Turing, football to Vimto to the Manchester tart…the creativity and industriousness of Mancunians is something of a wonder.

But, of course, while the worker bee represents Manchester, we definitely leave room for leisure pursuits beyond work. 

Just explore the Northern Quarter today, which is a hive of culture and food beloved by locals and visitors alike. Or head to the People’s Museum to learn about the many social justice causes Mancunians have fought for over the generations.  

We may be well represented by the bee, but Manchester is truly so much more beyond industry and work! Check out some of the places you can visit for free in Manchester and learn more about our history and contributions to the world.

Where to Find Manchester Bees in the City

If you’re coming to visit Manchester, you’ll almost certainly stumble upon the bee in various spots throughout the city. But there are a few in particular that you may want to seek out. And we also recommend asking your tour guide during your foodie tour of Manchester where their personal favourite bees are – they’ll surely have some suggestions!

At Manchester Town Hall, you’ll find a variety of bees both inside and outside the iconic building. First, look for the bees in the coat of arms above the main entrance at Albert Square. Notice anything different about the number of bees here versus the modern coat of arms? That’s right – there are only 5 here versus the normal 7 bees!

Inside Manchester Town Hall, you must seek out the Great Hall to see the stunning mosaic floor. There are an astonishing 67 bees on this marble floor, the designs for which became the common design for bees elsewhere in the city. 

Street art in Manchester that says No Fear Here with 6 of the Manchester bee symbols

Those common designs can be spotted on flower boxes, bollards, and sign posts across the city. But – perhaps these are our favourite bees here at Manchester Bites – we like to spot bees at our favourite places to eat! From menus to window decals to murals to integrating bees into a logo, we love trying to spot them at our local haunts.

We also love to share our favourite eats with visitors, so come join us on a walking tour!

Manchester Bees as Symbols of Unity

While the Manchester bee was originally incorporated into the city’s coat of arms as a symbol of industriousness, the bee has taken on much greater significance in recent years. After the tragic Manchester Arena attack in 2017, the bee became a symbol of unity. 

In honour of the 22 lives lost that day, 22 worker bees were painted on the side of the Koffee Pot building in the Northern Quarter. That mural shared the feeling across the city: that Manchester is unified and strong and will always work together for the greater good.

Since then, the bee has been such a powerful representation of everything Mancunian. This city is a hive of activity, a collaborative environment, and a hard working community. We stick together and we are Manchester Strong. 
Come see for yourself! We’d love to share even more stories about the people and places that make Manchester such a thriving cultural hub. Get in touch if you want to book a tour or learn more.

Street art in Manchester that says No Fear Here with 6 of the Manchester bee symbols