The Manchester Hive

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August 7, 2019 by nicolecatherineschaller

Bee imagery and concepts can be found in art, music, literature and pop culture across cultures and times. Think of the Beyhive, The Flight of the Bumblebee and a bee-line to the bathroom after a long car trip. Bees permeate our lives daily. What draws humans to this small, flying insect? How do we see a reflection of us in them?

Image result for manchester bee

A mention of the bee as an industrious creature dates back to at least the 16th century when English poet Isaac Watts made mention of bees in a morality poem. He suggested that humans should shake off idleness and turn to the bee as a shining example of productiveness. During England’s Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s, the city of Manchester led the way for industrial change. As a result, the worker bee or “busy bee” took on significance for the city’s inhabitants as a symbol of the hardworking Mancunian lifestyle and the city as a buzzing hive of manufacturing. In 1842, a bee motif was included in Manchester’s coat of arms and later decorated prominent buildings throughout its center.

Boddingtons Pub Ale, a major Manchester export founded 1778, features two bees prominently in the product logo. Both major Manchester football teams, Manchester City and Manchester United, pay homage to this idea by incorporating bee imagery into their uniforms. In 2019, Nike even created a “worker bee” collection for the Manchester City team. 

Check out hives and learn more about the bees at the Philadelphia Honey Fest on September 6th, 7th and 8th.

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