Our star exhibit was a demonstration hive inhabited by bees from our own Quaker beekeeper, who not only explained how hives worked, but paraded along Corve Street in bee-keeping attire to draw attention to our event. In Corve Street we had a stall selling bee-friendly plants nurtured by the large number of our members who are keen gardeners. Visitors enticed to the Meeting House found further plants for sale, as well as free tea and home-made cake. Family activities included the very popular creation of ‘bee hotels’ (for wild bees) made from bundles of bamboo rods. There were entrancing knitted bees created for visitors to take home. A further swarm of knitted bees (there had been a lot of knitting over the previous weeks) starred in the puppet play ‘The Bees’ presented by Duffy Moon and staged in our kitchen hatch. It tackled the topical issue of pesticides and ‘bee friendly’ garden plants – these were further explored in wall displays . Bees and flowers as inspiration for artists were demonstrated attractively by works from the art group.
Exploring bee themes revealed fascinating details. Humans have kept bees for thousands of years, and celebrated their industry in poetry; it was known that a bee’s favourite colour was purple and that bumble bees had longer tongues than honey bees, yet until the 18th century no-one realised that the worker bees were not male, but female.
A large proportion of the Meeting’s members were involved, and we learned a lot about bees. We had a steady stream of interested visitors, many of whom stayed to chat and enjoy the refreshments. The puppet show and art display were appropriate for a Fringe event, and encouraging conservation fitted well with Quaker concern for the environment. Money-raising was not our principal aim, but through plant sales and donations (we were overwhelmed by the quantity of plants donated) we raised £217, which we divided between Bee Wonderful (a campaign by the national charity Buglife), and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
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