A bee is essentially a gathering, to make an otherwise unwieldy task or project more manageable.
Wikipedia explains 'bee' this way:
Of course it is immediately plain why bees aren't common in tatting. Typically there haven't been enough of us living in close proximity to gather.
"...a gathering of peers to accomplish a task or to hold a competition. Especially in the past, the tasks were often major jobs, such as clearing a field of timber or raising a barn, that would be difficult to carry out alone. It was often both a social and utilitarian event. Jobs like corn husking or sewing, could be done as a group to allow socialization during an otherwise tedious chore. Such bees often included refreshments and entertainment provided by the group."
Tatters are the control group, the experts, the epitome of the "think global, craft local" movement.
Are Tats Days the new Bees?Consider the Palmetto Tatting Guild, the Fringe Element Tatters, the Finger Lakes or Shuttlebirds tatting guilds. They each have enough members to organize an annual Tat Days conference.
Then there are the Mad Tatters and Oklahoma Shuttle Bugs in Tennessee, Mobile Tatters in Alabama, and the Timp Tatters in Utah, among many other lace guilds that include tatters in their ranks.
And last but never least, the Danish Tatting Guild, the Ring of Tatters in the UK and the Tatting Guild of New South Wales in Australia just to name a few of the global guilds!
Might it be time for larger tatting groups to get their bee on?
Dare I dream of a trickle down effect to smaller groups should such an idea take root?
It certainly seems to me that a large project, such as the crazy quilt project Georgia Seitz and others organized as a 2010 Palmetto Tat Days fund-raiser, would be an ideal bee project.
While I'm ruminating on the subject, why aren't "sheep to shawl" competitions lumped into the bee category? They certainly fit the bill.
Should working bees, like the once popular barn-raising, corn-husking, cider pressing and quilting gatherings of yore, continue to keep company with other ghosts of our American heritage?
I leave you to gather your thoughts with this poem I found on the Internet. It is written for quilters but applies to tatters equally well. Substitute "quilting" with "tatting" and you'll see what I mean:
THE QUILTIN’ TIMES ARE A-CHANGING
by CindyThury Smith 1999
For our Great-Great Grandmothers,
in quilting times past—
A frugal quilter had to scrimp, make every scrap last—
Today wasting fabric is not such a crime—
Today what’s scarce is a quilter’s TIME.
Patterns used to travel with pioneers going west—
Now we swap and share instantly on the Internet—
Once templates were traced, fabric carefully scissored—
Now we slice multiple layers, we’re all Olfa wizards.
At one time a two fabric quilt was a sign of status—
Now Watercolor quilts have hundreds of prints comin’ at us—
Quilters used to gather at small local quilting bees—
Now we congregate at conferences, national teachers to see.
Like our Great-Great Grandmothers our lives are busy, we’re stressed—
But with the beauty of our quilts, we feel we are blessed—
As with Great-Great Grandmother, our quilting serves many goals—
To give warmth, grace our homes, and feed our souls.