Everything you need to know about the Manchester bee tattoo appeal
People are queuing up outside tattoo parlours to get inked with a Manchester bee.
Tattoo parlours up and down the country are offering £50 bee tattoos, with all profits going towards the families of the victims of the Manchester Arena attack.
Here is what you need to know about the appeal and why the bee is so significant.
What is the Manchester Tattoo Appeal?
There has been an overwhelming response from studios across the UK, Europe and the World who have also opened their doors in solidarity. We are hugely grateful to all the studios and artists…
The appeal, organised by Stalybridge tattooist Sam Barber, is a fundraising event with each customer paying £50 to get a tattoo of a bee.
All the money raised goes directly to a dedicated Just Giving page set up for the families of those affected. The current total is almost £15,000 – £5,000 over its original target.
The appeal originally started out as a small scale initiative between a few tattoo artists in the Manchester area.
But it quickly picked up traction online as more and more studios across the UK, and even as far away as Australia, wanted to get involved.
How does it work?
Not all participating parlours are taking bookings so people are simply queuing up and hoping to get inked on the day.
Even though the event doesn’t officially start until Sunday, demand has been so great that many tattooists are seeing people early.
Barber said she came up with the idea after feeling helpless in the wake of the attack and wondering what she could do.
“Being a tattooist, I thought I’ll see if I can raise a bit of money for the families by doing the symbolic Manchester bee,” she said.
Why is the bee symbolic?
The history of the worker bee as a motif for Manchester dates back to the city’s industrial past.
During the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was at the centre of textile manufacturing. It’s believed the busy workers in the mills were commonly compared to bees in their hives and so the association was born.
The worker bee has since represented the hard work and community spirit of Mancunians, and can be seen subtly incorporated into the city’s landscape including on buildings, bins and clocks.
Why is it so popular now?
200 years a symbol of Manchester is the Worker Bee. Cooperative, resilient, and communitarian. Togetherness is still our greatest strength.— James Cairns (@CairnsJA) May 23, 2017
While the meaning behind the bee has remained fairly localised for years, its status has reached new levels of fame following the attack.
People have found it to be a fitting symbol for the way locals have rallied and supported each other in the aftermath.
Why are people getting the bee tattooed?
My first (and last) tattoo in memory of all the people who lost their lives and are injured after Manchester's terrorist attack on Monday. I have had many amazing hours in that arena throughout my life and it breaks my heart knowing the men women and children set out that night to have a good time and enjoy music. RIP 💕. #manchesterbee #weareunited
The bee was already popular in the area before the attack so it seemed the obvious choice to Barber who described it as a symbol of strength and pride.
She also believes it’s a fairly universal tattoo. She said: “It’s a nice thing to have tattooed, anyone could get it, it’s not too strong or too big so people love it.”
Who is getting it tattooed?
Interest in the bee tattoo has come from all sorts of people, according to Barber.
She’s heard from friends and relatives of some of the victims, survivors who were at the concert, A&E staff who were working on the night of the attack, and others who “just want to feel part of something.”
She added: “The tattoo means something different to each person that’s getting it.
“It can be seen as a badge of honour or some people are doing it as a remembrance tattoo for a loved one.”
Many are having the bee as their first ever tattoo, including Stalybridge Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds, who was inked by Barber. He called the appeal a “wonderful idea” and said “it didn’t hurt as much as I’d feared”.