Manchester bee symbol: how it became an emblem of hope after the Manchester Arena Bombing
The Manchester worker bee has become synonymous with the city’s dignified response to the Manchester Arena attacks of 2017
The worker bee, which has been a symbol of Manchester since the Industrial Revolution, was widely shared on social media in the wake of the atrocity which killed 22 and injured dozens more.
The bee quickly became a symbol of the city’s unity against hate and terrorism.
Use as response to terrorist attack
Prior to the attack the bee was already an ever-present symbol of the city, featuring on the city’s bins. The bee also feature on the logo of Manchester brewers Boddingtons.
Following the attack it built on its meaning.
In the moments after the attack a city initially stricken by fear, came together offering help to those who had been in attendance at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena where the attack occurred. Taxi drivers offered free journeys to those fleeing the scene, while nearby hotels opened their doors to fleeing victims.
This spirit of togetherness and resilience was already synonymous with the worker bee, and grieving Mancunians looked to the symbolism as a source of comfort.
City tattoo parlours came together offering free tattoos of the symbol in return for a donation to charities supporting victims – just one of the unique ways that the city responded to the attacks.
The bee was also a source of inspiration for graffiti artists in the wake of the attack and featured prominently on banners at vigils.
Tweeting in the wake of the attack Manchester resident James Cairnes wrote: "Cooperative, resilient, and communitarian. Togetherness is our greatest strength."
Why is the bee a symbol of Manchester?
The worker bee has been a symbol of the city since at least 1842 when it was incorporated into Manchester City Council's coat of arms.
It was used to represent the city's resilience and work ethic forged during the Industrial Revolution when its mills and factories were likened to hives.
The University of Manchester, which has three on its crest, says the bee "represents the city’s innovative and enterprising past".
Since then it has been used on landmarks around the city, as well as on the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Manchester and the Boddington's brewery.