The worker bee is one of the best-known symbols of Manchester. It was adopted as a motif for Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, at a time when Manchester was taking a leading role in new forms of mass production, and symbolises Mancunians’ hard work during this era and Manchester being a hive of activity in the 19th century.
HMS Manchester was nicknamed Busy Bee after the Manchester bee symbol, and the bee is depicted on the ship’s crest, which is also present on the ship’s funnel. In the early 1970s the famous Boddingtons logo was introduced, depicting a barrel and two bees. The University of Manchester’s coat of arms features three bees. The bees are depicted on many structures in Manchester such as lampposts and bollards.
Following the May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, the bee emblem gained popularity as a public symbol of unity against terrorism, appearing on protest banners and graffiti. Tattoo parlours both in and outside Manchester began to take part in the Manchester Tattoo Appeal, in which they offered bee tattoos to raise money for the victims of the attack. During the 2017 International Champions Cup, the two most prominent Greater Manchester-based football clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City, wore a worker bee badge on their kits during the Manchester derby played in Houston, Texas, United States.