The term "bees" were used for a variety of get togethers with a theme. For example, there were "husking bees"and "paring bees" (these focused on paring apples). Often bees were organized to assist neighbors and centered on some kind of work. As one 1866 article offered "an accident or calamity of some kind may have occurred throwing the settler behind-hand with his owrk or doing damage to an extent he cannot repair by his own undivided efforts."
Another website offered that sewing bees in the United States sometime in the first half of the 19th century. Often sewing bees focused on helping the poor and indigent, I found a number of articles that cited sewing bees were making clothes to distribute before winter.
Ladies Aid Societies were--to my knowledge--formed during the Civil War, usually out of groups of women who already met or sewed together. They used their skills to benefit the Union cause and after the war, their communities. A few societies existed even to the end of the 20th century. Yesterday Kathie emailed me about her grandmother:
"My grandmother was a hard-working farm wife with 8 kids. My mum says that one of the joys of her life was the Ladies Aide group at our church where they joined together for quilting. She was the designated person to mark the quilt designs."
Quilting Bees still occur today. My own guild had a daytime and an evening bee until recently.
So why the allure of sewing together? We'll talk about that tomorrow!
Have a safe and happy day!