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Shrine Disclaimer

This forever incomplete shrine is my best effort at documenting as much as I can find and recall about the q*bee. I hope everyone on the old web had a place as special as this site, because there really won't ever bee anything like it again. If I got something wrong or if any former bees want to also add to this, please drop me a message on my guestbook or mastodon. I'd love to just reconnect and reminisce too.

Pixel Club Overview & History

The * Quilting * Bee (aka q*bee) was an interactive pixel art community that was founded on February 18th, 2000 and closed in 2014. β€œIt was the first and original trading club dedicated to trading pixel web graphics between members. Members could collect and trade pixel patches to 'sew' onto their 'quilts'” (seen above), which were akin to visual directories of creative webmasters, in addition to participating in many other activities to motivate and advance their pixeling skills, including monthly pixel art challenges. There were also non-pixeling activities like "blog-a-thons", story writing, holiday card exchanges, and many other immersive ways to have fun and get to know fellow bees. The q*bee awarded members many patches and mini pixel mushrooms in recognition of contributions to the site and community.

The club was open and accepting to all, but the international membership was "overwhelmingly female, ranging in age from early teens upwards. Male members were welcomed, but the personal web scene was dominated by women in the 00s"(source). There were quite a few rules in place to ensure the club remained "more intimate and something extra unique to be a part of in the web world". Compared to other sites at the time that only required an email address, this relatively higher bar for entry made for an extremely creative, active, and interesting community, achieving the intended goal.

The labor and love that went into the site from everyone was evident everywhere, and there was a mighty team of staff bees that really kept the club in a tier of its own. The site layouts were made up of stunning pixel art with seemingly endless nooks and crannies stuffed with goodies and activities for you to explore once you were accepted into the club. Hover over the mini patches below to get a sense of the site pages and activities.

The q*bee was like a virtual pixel art summer camp with fun ways to participate happening all of the time. Some activity pages with member-created submissions are still accessible such as Sandcastles from 2008, Spring Flowers from 2008, and Valentines Lucky Dip 2008.

The Joy of Beeing a Bee

Whether I was challenging myself to create a submission for a seasonal pixel art contest, getting inspired by unique patches and quilts, or buzzing on the Bee*Bee*S message board, I was always having a lovely time as a bee. The community was ever-evolving in response to this incredible creative source and outlet. Some members redesigned their quilts or donated pixel art free*bees for others to use, and some created many different patches over time, documenting the evolution of their artistic ability.
As I was hunting down patches across the archived web, I found so many folks who wrote blog posts throughout the years on December 15, the annual Quilting Bee blog day, sharing their passion for the club, echoing my own feelings perfectly. You can read some of the ones I found by clicking on these patches:

The quilting bee made the ever-expanding web feel homey by connecting lovely, creative folks all over the world in a positive and healthy way. I'll never forget the thrill of coming across inconspicuous pixel bees placed like easter eggs across personal websites and blogs at the time. It was the instantly recognizable entry point to the webmaster's quilt, and all you had to do was click. Through 40x40 pixel patches, every members' quilt told a visual story of who they were, who they interacted with, and their artistic style. If I could sum it up in four words, I'd choose discovery, delight, personalization, and curation. It was the pinnacle of the small web experience. I miss that version of the internet, and since this whole website is my small stand to help bring it back, please indulge me as I make my own "about me" quilt (albeit with a few more awards than I've actually earned in my time as a bee πŸ˜…):

Through the process of creating this shrine, I found some quilts that were preserved better than others. There were many club rules that standardized quilts, including the requirement to keep a trade log. That's how I found proof of my trades even though I didn't have my old personal website anymore. One of my earliest recorded trades I could find was with Lollie #32 in February 2007 as bee #10. The most recent trade I could find was with Mylene #258 on April 13, 2013 as bee #19 (I changed numbers when I rejoined later on). I'm so grateful that this information is still out there, enabling me to find my old patches and digital footprints that exclaim, "I was here! I was a part of this!" I've collected some of the better preserved quilts here, so click on these patches below to experience their creativity and uniqueness first-hand.

Free*bees for Former Bees

Given how much effort went into every pixel and line of code for this club, I would hate it if this work was ever forgotten and never seen again. I felt compelled to create this shrine to cherish this very special time and place on the web, and I've compiled a list of assets here in case any other members want to create a quilt for old times' sake.