Art and Culture England

Manchester Bee Trail – A Great Way to Bee in the City

Bee Street Art on Mason Street in Manchester
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Manchester Bee Trail – A Great Way to Bee in the City

Manchester’s streets are suddenly buzzing with people looking for bees. The Manchester bee trail, Bee in the City is a fun new public art event drawing on the city’s iconic symbol. There are over a hundred 1.8 metre bee sculptures dotted around Manchester, designed by professional and emerging artists. Could you do all 100 in a day?

Manchester Bee Trail - Bee in the City Art on Stevenson Square Manchester

Manchester Bee Trail – Bee in the City Art is everywhere, like here on Stevenson Square

Free Manchester bee art trail for all

There’s a wedding about to start in the Lowry but smartly dressed guests have abandoned the bar and are looking for their kids. They eventually find them climbing on the back of a brightly coloured bee sculpture. These Little Bees have been designed by over 131 schools, nurseries and youth groups and are scattered around different parts of the city. They are the support for the main event, a collection of much bigger, bolder, brighter bee sculptures, designed and painted up by the city’s artists and sponsored by organisations ranging from the NHS to Virgin trains to the Manchester Beekeepers Association.

Manchester Bee in the City sculpture in the Lowry Manchester

Manchester Bee in the City sculpture in the Lowry Manchester

On the trail of the wild

Manchester isn’t the first city to develop an animal sculpture trail. The Lake District’s Herdy trail had sheep installed across Windermere, Bowness and Grasmere while Bristol led the way with its Wallace and Gromit trails.

#GoHerdwick sheep in the car park of Low Wood Hotel

#GoHerdwick sheep in the car park of Low Wood Hotel

Crazy about cows

The craze isn’t just UK based either; we spent many happy hours searching for cows in Le Grand Bornand in the French Alps.

Cow watches over the valley from Chalet du Maroly, Le Grand Bornand

Bee in the City wasn’t the first animal themed sculpture trail

Bee in the City with a Manchester Bee Trail map or app

But a hundred sculptures seems quite ambitious for even the most dedicated family to bag. This Manchester bee trail was conceived by Wild in Art and Manchester City Council. Each Bee in the City has been designed by a different artist celebrating every aspect of Manchester you can think of.

You can access the trail using an app on your phone, swiping the bees to gain points. If you prefer to go old tech you can pick up a trail map from various tourist centres in the city including Central Library, the Museum of Science and Industry and The Lowry. Or download the free map here.

Bees on the side of the Koffee Pot in Manchester

Bees are everywhere in Manchester this summer thanks to the Manchester Bee trail

Why is Manchester buzzing?

Why the bee? The worker bee is a long lasting symbol of the city. You’ll find it in a sorts of places including Russell Meeham’s giant mural on the Koffee Pot in Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter. The artist, known as Qubek, painted 22 Manchester worker bees swarming around a honey heart, each representing one of the 22 people killed in the terror attack in Manchester last year. The bee is also present in many other graffiti paintings on street corners, as well as poster on windows, mosaics and even on the bins. You can check out some of these other bees in the city as you go.

Should we still Bee in Europe? Bee in the City on the Manchester Bee Trail

Should we still Bee in Europe? Bee in the City on the Manchester Bee Trail

Musical Bee in the City

Some Bees in the City are likely to be more sought after than others. Musicians visiting the city have signed the bee sculpture Bee Live in MCR, designed by artist Amy Coney. These include legends like Liam Gallagher, Mick Jagger and Ed Sheeran. Other musical bees include Hac’Bee’Enda.

The Manchester Bee Trail will engage visitors and locals all summer before being auctioned off to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s We Love Manchester charity. We’ll be doing Bee in the City later this week. Can we do all 100 in a day? Watch this space..

This bee is flagging at The Lowry Manchester

This bee is flagging at The Lowry Manchester

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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