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Why thousands of bees have been swarming cars and street signs in Manchester city centre this week

There's been two unusual sightings of honeybee swarms in the last two days - but why is this?

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 16th June 2021

It’s not something you see everyday, but on more than one occasion this week, there’s been bees swarming in Manchester city centre.

John Dalton Street came to a halt yesterday afternoon after thousands of bees descended upon the rear window of a parked-up and unattended BMW, and the quintessentially Manc sighting understandably stopped a lot of passers-by right in their tracks.

Crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the spectacle in action just shortly after midday.

To the uninitiated, it would seem impossible to imagine how the swarm would disperse – but luckily, a knowledgeable beekeeper arrived at the scene not long after and could be seen handling the situation like a pro by attempting to get the hive into a cardboard box.

But if one swarm in the city centre wasn’t strange enough as it is, a second sighting was spotted once again this afternoon.


Eye-witnesses were shocked to see thousands of bees swarming on the bottom half of a temporary street sign for Manchester International Festival (MIF) on Peter Street, completely engulfing and covering the text underneath.

People couldn’t help but get their phones out to snap pictures and take video footage of the swarms on both occasions to share on social media, but it presents the all important question – why is this happening?


Why are so many bees swarming in Manchester city centre?

Well, according to the British Beekeepers Association, a honeybee colony may swarm for a number of reasons but can often be seen swarming on warm and sunny days between May and July, and usually after a spell of poor weather.

It’s a completely natural process, and they will most likely swarm to reproduce after the old queen leaves a colony with some of the other bees.


Once the queen has left, scout bees will then head off in search of suitable places to construct the swarm’s home, and the successful scouts will eventually report back on the location of suitable nesting sites to the other bees – but in the meantime, the other bees will leave the hive and find a spot to wait until the scout decides on the new home for the colony.

The latter is most likely to answer for the swarming we’ve seen over the last two days.

It remains to be seen whether this will be the last swarm we’ll see this week, but the city will no doubt be ready and waiting should it happen again.

Bees truly are reclaiming our streets.

Featured Image – The Manc Group