It may come as a surprise to you as you wander past Cathedral Gardens to find that things are a little bit lively on the rooftops.

Canon Apiarist Adrian Rhodes and a team of volunteers have been looking after colonies of Manchester bees on the Cathedral’s roof and over at the Printworks since 2011.

The 300,000 bees who reside in the hives have been largely going about the business of foraging around in the Medieval Quarter and making Heavenly Honey unnoticed and out of view until now.

As part of an initiative to highlight Manchester Cathedral’s Volition Volunteer programme (set up to help those seeking work into employment through volunteer roles including bee-keeping) infra-red cameras have been installed on the roof and inside one of the hives.

To launch this new initiative Saturday’s FREE event On a wing and a prayer 300,000 Bees will give local residents and visitors to Manchester Cathedral the chance to find out more about the art of urban beekeeping.

Canon Rhodes is a Trustee of the Manchester and District Beekeeping Association – and teaches practical beekeeping at their apiary in Heaton Park. He regularly uses liturgical incense in his smoker – not for the bees, but to keep himself cool and calm!

“Beekeeping is such a fascinating and varied craft; never a dull moment – and always something more to learn from these incredible creatures. I have been very encouraged on how this part of the Volition Programme has helped many long-term unemployed find work and/or move into self-employment”

The Dean of Manchester. the Very Revd Rogers Govender explains:

“What started as a very casual conversation between the Cathedral Architect John Pritchard and myself has resulted in this amazing project where we feel that we can not only do our bit for the environment in this historic quarter but also help people back into work by providing a volunteering experience with a difference.”

Meet Canon Apiarist Adrian Rhodes, explore the Human Hives art installations with the Three Bees Co-operative, watch a livestream feed from the roof and discover the bees hidden in the historic fabric of this beautiful church.

Entertain friends, family and visitors for free and eke out one last summer Saturday before the serious business of returning to work and school starts with a vengeance next week.

This event is part of a season-long programme of surprising and exciting events at Manchester Cathedral. Heavenly Honey will be available to buy from St Denys’ Bookshop and Propertea café in the Cathedral Visitor Centre from late September.

On a wing and a prayer 300,000 Bees Saturday 2 September from 11am until 4pm
Meet the Beekeeper talks at 11am and 2pm
All events are free and tickets are not required
For more information visit and


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