Tattoo parlours across the UK are being swarmed by people all looking to get exactly the same tattoo: a bee. The design’s sudden popularity is a result of a crowdfunding campaign to help the families of the 22 people who died and the 116 people who were injured in a terrorist attack at Manchester Arena on Monday May 22.

Police have said Mancunian man Salman Ramadan Abedi carried out the suicide bomb attack as people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert at the venue. The attack is the deadliest in the UK since the 2005 London bombings.

#❤️manchester #bees #manchester #tattoomanchester #manchesterbees

Une publication partagée par Alchemy Tattoo Studio (@alchemytattoostudio) le

People queued down the street to get inked by Alchemy Tattoo Studio in Wigan, UK.

After the attack, acts of support were swift: people queued to give blood to help emergency services, and the Manchester Evening News started an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the families of those killed and injured in the attack, reaching almost two million pounds.

Now Manchester tattoo artists have set up their own crowdfunding initiative, the Manchester Tattoo Appeal, with a goal of raising £75,000 through the profits of giving tattoos.

Tattoo parlours in Manchester and across the UK are donating their skills, time, and ink to give bee tattoos – and 100% of the proceeds from each tattoo go straight into a pot for the victims and their families. The appeal has already raised over £54,000, and social media shows the queues snaking down city streets as people wait for hours to get inked with a bee and show their support.

An image of one of the queues of waiting customers at a Mancunian tattoo parlour. Photo:
Ash Kapriélov

But why a bee?

Manchester was historically a major hub of the textile industry in the 19th century, and the image of a bee symbolised the industriousness of the employees going off to work in the city’s cotton mills. Now the city proudly displays the symbol in the streets: you can see the bee on the facades of buildings, and also on the public bins dotted around the city centre.

🐝 #Manchester #northernquarter #tribute #MCR #bee #workerbee #streetart #graffiti #art #westandtogether

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Mancunian Jody Wright got a bee tattoo in solidarity with the victims and their families.

Jody Wright lives in Manchester and went to get her own bee tattoo. She said,

“I’ve wanted one for a while because I absolutely adore Manchester but I never got round to it. Then with the unfortunate events that happened I thought it meant more now than it ever would. I got it because I wanted to make a statement. I am so proud of my city, even before the terror attack, but even more so now. The bee has been our symbol for such a long time but now it has much more meaning to it. Not only does it represent Manchester, but also unity and the fact that we will never be defeated. It will most likely be the most meaningful tattoo I ever will have.”

Aaliyah Michael is one of the people who got a bee tattoo as part of the drive for donations.

Aaliyah Michael grew up in Birmingham and went to get a bee tattoo from a local tattoo artist after they advertised offering bee tattoos on Facebook in solidarity with the Mancunian artists that started the appeal.

“This is my first tattoo – I was planning on getting one and then this opportunity came. For me tattoos are an expression of art and something meaningful, so that’s why I decided to get a tattoo rather than just donate to the fund. I wanted to show solidarity with Manchester. The studio I went to was very busy throughout the day, and they managed to raise £726 for the appeal!”