77 bees will be auctioned on 17 October, with all proceeds going to the We Love Manchester charity

One million app check-ins, 9300 miles walked and over 200,000 trail maps picked up…the Bee in the City trail was a glittering example of how public art can engage a city. 

But, alas, all good things come to an end and the bees have flown to pastures new - the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre to be precise, where 77 of them will be auctioned off on Wednesday 17 October.  

Hosted by auctioneer and TV personality Charles Hanson, the event costs £30 to attend and is expected to sell out. However, wannabee owners can also bid online and the event will be live-streamed on social media. 

All money raised through the auction will go to the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s We Love MCR Charity, with many bees expected to sell for between £6000-8000. 

2018 07 22 Bee In The City Mini Bee 2 2018 07 22 Bee In The City Mini Bee 7 2018 07 22 Bee In The City Mini Bee 5 2018 07 22 Bee In The City 7 2018 07 22 Bee In The City 6 2018 07 22 Bee In The City 5 2018 07 22 Bee In The City 2 2018 07 22 Bee In The City 1
2018 10 08 Charles Hanson
Charles Hanson will host the auction

Charles Hanson, auctioneer and antiques expert on TV’s Bargain Hunt, The Antiques Road Trip and Flog It!, said: “I’ve been privileged to see many incredible objects ‘go under the hammer’ but none more unusual than this stunning collection of Bees designed by established artists and ‘ones to watch!’ This is a fantastic opportunity to give a Bee a home and own an original piece of art to treasure as part of permanent memento of an unforgettable summer.” 

The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor June Hitchen, added: “We Love MCR Charity has been supporting young people, promoting stronger communities, and helping to build a better future for Manchester since 1997. We are delighted to have been chosen as the benefiting charity of Bee in the City and have loved being part of this inspiring project.

“Manchester has a proud history of solidarity. We are a vibrant, successful city – but there are still people living here who need a helping hand. The money raised through the auction will support our We Love MCR Stronger Communities grant programme. Wishing you a fun night and the best of luck as you bid for your Bee!”

2018 10 08 June Hitchen David Oates
Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor June Hitchen David Oates

Which bees are set to cause a buzz?

Bees inspired by Manchester’s musical heritage include ROCK ’N’ ROLL Bee, designed with Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher; a Hac ‘BEE’ enda Bee celebrating the city’s legendary nightclub; and Bee Here Now, featuring bands such as Joy Division and Happy Mondays. Zingy lemon-covered bee I Wanna Bee Adored, meanwhile, is signed by Gary Mounfield a.k.a Mani from The Stone Roses.

2018-10-08-Liam-Gallagher-bee-Charlie-Lightening.jpeg#asset:734791Liam Gallagher signing the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL Bee @ Charlie Lightening

It’s Manchester United versus Manchester City as footballing tributes to famous clubs Bee United and Mike Summer-Bee go wing-to-wing at the auction. Which one will be victorious under the gavel?

Celeb fans will no doubt covet Bee Live in MCR: The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, the Foo Fighters, Billy Joel, the Gallagher brothers, Gary Barlow, The Courteeners and Blossoms have all added their signatures to this A-list artwork.

2018-10-08-Bee-Live-David-Oates.jpeg#asset:734796Signatures on Bee Live @ David Oates

Meanwhile, the STEM Bee features 80 signatures from scientists, researchers, engineers and teachers working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) from across Greater Manchester; including Kostya Novoselov, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for his achievements with graphene. It also contains portraits of mathematician Alan Turing, physicist Ernest Rutherford and family planning pioneer Marie Stopes.

I’d Rather Bee Cycling boasts the autographs of Team GB Olympic champions Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker, while Hilda Bugden should appeal to Corrie fans.

2018-10-09-Bee-in-the-City-Corrie-Karen-Wright.jpeg#asset:734800Hilda Bugden with Corrie cast members @ Karen Wright

Small in stature but just as important, there also four little Bees going under the hammer: Crown Jewels and Dazzle Bee are adorned with mosaic and gem-like stones, while The Drip-bee’s fluid paint effect will appeal to contemporary enthusiasts and Thomas Wolksi’s Not too Shab-bee is anticipated to be a hit amongst his growing celebrity fanbase.

Other arty sensations include City in the Bee by illustrator Hammo; The Federation Bee by street art duo Nomad Clan; and Bee Lieve by internationally-renowned graffiti artist kELzO.

The Bee in the City auction starts at 6.15pm on Wednesday 17 October: to buy event tickets, view the lots or place a bid, visit the website’s auction page

Preceding the auction, from 12-14 October, will be the Bee in the City Farewell Weekend: the last chance to see all 101 bees together before they are auctioned off. Again taking place at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre, the event also boasts family-friendly activities aplenty - from theatre to dance and BMX demos to wax candle making with beekeepers - as well as live music, street food and an art fair. Tickets range from free to £6 and must be booked in advance on eventbrite

As well as being part of Design Manchester Festival, the event will also round off Libraries Week (8-13 October) in aid of Bee in the City’s partnership with Read Manchester. Spanning Arabic calligraphy to impromptu choirs, this year’s theme is wellbeing: showing how libraries bring communities together, combat loneliness, provide a space for creativity and support people with their mental health. 

Much like Bee in the City.