Now I don’t want to alarm anyone, but a swarm of giant bees has descended on the Greater Manchester area. OK I might be being a touch dramatic but it is true that over 100 giant bees have appeared however it’s the brainchild of Wild in Art who gave the city centre a similar makeover in 2004 with the Cow Parade.
This time they have got technical. If you download the Bee in the City App for £1.99 (25% goes to the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s Charity Appeal) you can join the huge treasure hunt and see how many bees you can find. If you’re not a smart phone user, there are map hubs all across the city.
Each bee has a totally different theme from Madchester to steampunk to the buzz of Manchester and have been created by a host of artists and local groups. It’s not just the adults who are having all the fun either, over 30,000 kids have been involved in the scheme and created their own colony of little Bees who have also taken up residence in the city.
It is fair to say that Manchester is thin on the ground when it comes to tourist choices, there is no Albert Dock or castle or zoo so it’s really refreshing to see people flock to the city to do something other than work or shop, it hasn’t been like this since Coronation Street flung its doors open a few years ago.
I saw one lad running from one bee to the other, excitedly shouting to his Dad that he’d found another. It was lovely to see. Another family told me they had travelled from Prestatyn just to see how many they could find and their kids proudly announced they were on 49. I was on 2 at the time but I refused to be bullied.
Each bee has a unique reference code that you key into the app and it tells you the story behind the bee. The more you find, the more you get with a host of rewards being unlocked including discounts and freebies as well as the pride of collecting them all. That may be a tall order with bees stretching from Heaton Park to the Airport, how determined are you going to be?
The worker bee has been the symbol of Manchester since the industrial revolution when the city grew massively leading many to compare the hive of activity to a bee colony. Have you noticed they are on every bollard and litter bin? The bees took on a more sombre tone following the 2017 bombing at the Manchester arena, becoming the symbol which led our unity against the attack. This makes their colourful and triumphant return to the city all the more poignant. Little bees dedicated to those lost that night are in Manchester Cathedral to allow for quiet reflection.
So if you’re sick of hearing “I’m bored” this early into the school holidays, why not bring the kids to Manchester and burn off some energy. There’s even a mini festival this weekend with music, performance and of course, honey tasting.
It’s not just for kids, big kids like me are getting involved. I’ve got 12 already. But be quick, they are only visiting our city until 23rd September, then they will be auctioned off in aid of charity.