The Mancunian bee: striped and winged, of course, and rather simply drawn in black ink. The worker bee has been the symbol of Manchester for nearly 200 years.
This past week it was picked up and dusted off by a city racked with grief, becoming one of the most unexpected and potent symbols of defiance in the wake of the attack that shook this city to its core Monday, when 22 people, including several children, were killed by a suspected suicide bomber at a packed Ariana Grande concert.
‘It just represents how we unite and we work hard.’
– Lauren Walker
The renaissance of the bee began in the most unlikely of places: in the city’s tattoo parlours. The artists known as “ink-slingers” offered to tattoo the worker bee on those who wanted it and then donate the fee to a fund for victims of the attack.
And so the lineups at the tattoo parlours began.
“We saw the tattoo of the bee online last night and we just decided it would be a good way to raise some money for the [victims’] funds,” said waitress Ashley Price as she waited for a tattoo artist to free up at Loaded Forty Four Tattoo & Piercing.
Price said she also wanted to express her solidarity with her fellow citizens.
“The bee’s been a symbol of the city, and I think we just need to prove that we’ll keep staying strong and keep working.”
Bee dates back to Industrial Revolution
The symbol dates back to the Industrial Revolution. The northern England city of Manchester, of course, was at the heart of it, and people used to call the city’s factories “beehives.”
The bee was seen as an emblem of industriousness and collective effort. There are seven on the city’s crest, and around town you’ll find the worker bee symbol on garbage cans, lampposts and the floors…