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I remember once finding a few ‘eggs’ in London, a handful of Lambdas in Liverpool, and something else in Norwich a few years ago, but have never had the opportunity to be somewhere where I could go and find ‘all’ of a collection, but this was possible with Manchester’s Bee in the City, created by Wild in Art.
I’m not sure if I hadn’t been looking for free/gentle exercise post-cancer that I would have sought to find all the bees (and even then, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to finish), but it was a nice way to go and find new parts of the city (although some bees were surprisingly challenging to find). I’m afraid I binned my ‘plan out’ paper map as it got soaked, but the map is nicely set out so you can zone out particular areas – outside and inside the city:
Some excursions I only found one or two, other times – like walking through town for a meeting in the Northern Quarter, meant I was able to ‘collect’ several on the way through. When you find a bee, you can check into the app, and ‘unlock’ a bee (using the 4 digit number on the base of each bee):
One of the earlier ones I caught was the ‘augmented reality bee’ (see second photo):
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There have been quite a lot of other events around the bees themselves, and it’s been really intriguing watching what has essentially been the gamification of exploring Manchester, and encouraging walking, using the joy of sharing the findings on social media! I could watch the number of bees I’d collected on the app:
The app was largely good, although it had a habit of checking you in when you clicked on a bee to see more about it, and hadn’t actually seen it, and also the map didn’t autolocate to where you were (which is something we’re used to with Google maps).
You’ll see that there were also rewards when you completed certain bees, or certain collections of bees. I wasn’t paying much attention, but the free swim at the Aquatics centre alone would more than pay for the £1.99 paid for the app (of which 50p went to charity anyway). There were other aspects of the app that I didn’t really use, including the ‘Steps’ function (as my phone does that anyway, and I often had Pokemon running whilst walking anyway).
So, Saturday, I finished finding all the bees, with help from my friend Erika, who’d already found quite a few of them, so it was less exploring, and more counting them off, but I enjoyed seeing some new bits of Manchester!
I was however, pretty good for nothing the next day, as I totally broke my ‘steps’ record since chemotherapy (most had been about 15/16k steps!):
So, for now it’s back to the Pokemon, and likely joining the PARiS scheme to build up my fitness and mental well being again!
Read more about them on Manchester Evening News, including how the artists and sites were chosen. The bees are in place until 23 September 2018, and will then be auctioned off.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.