“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left” – Albert Einstein.
The bee is the symbol of the city of Manchester, adopted by the Victorians; seven bees were incorporated into the city’s coat of arms in 1842. Now, bees adorn council flower pots, bridges, bins and bollards, as well as much of the Town Hall. There are bee hives on the roof of Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Cathedral and the Printworks, of all places. So Manchester, of any city in the UK, should be particularly concerned about the decline in the country’s bee population – for symbolic reasons, at least. Aptly enough, Manchester Museum‘s latest exhibition After the Bees, focuses on just that.
Exploring the consequences of a world without bees through a series of artworks, the exhibition tells a poignant tale of loss. Artist, photographer and filmmaker Megan Powell will celebrate the beauty of this most-Manchester of creatures, and tell the story of the haunting aftermath in a world without pollinators. After the Bees includes interviews with academics, ecologists and specialists who help to uncover the language of the hive, as well as photography and filming of urban honeybee hives across the city.
After the Bees also features highly-detailed, magnified images of specimens from Powell’s own collection, taken using electron microscopes at The University of Manchester, alongside close-up shots of taxidermy birds from the museum’s collection. The latter will suggest the repercussions of environmental change across species in an echo of the museum’s other showcase exhibition, Extinction or Survival?, which looks into instances of extinction caused by humans.