Most people I know steer themselves way clear of bees of any kind when they see them. Getting stung by one is not fun and if you are allergic it can be much worse. But as with all things repulsive to most of us – there are a class of people in this world who like to have bees all over them. Its called Bee Bearding and it started many years ago by beekeepers who obviously had too much time on their hands. Today, bee bearding is more popular than ever and seems to be taking on a culture of its own. From University Professors, to kids, to dancers, to people getting married, and even guys playing clarinets. More and more people want to get in on the buzz these days.
Tim Lawrence, Director of the Honey Bee Health Program at Washington State University, says, “Bee bearding is kind of a hammy thing to do, really, but it always draws a crowd and amazes people. For me, it’s strictly a teaching tool. It demonstrates that bees can be trained and shows swarming instincts, plus the role that pheromones play.” John Gibeau, President of the Honeybee Centre in Vancouver, agrees. “It’s a stunt that’s essentially good PR for the bee world, to demonstrate that they’re gentle and easy to train.”
The Guinness Book of Records includes a category for “most pounds of bees worn on the body,” which is currently held by American animal trainer Mark Biancaniello. Biancaniello successfully wore 350,000 bees, weighing just over 87 pounds. A 2005 attempt to break the record by Irish beekeeper Philip McCabe, who was to wear a full one hundred pounds of bees, failed when only 60 pounds of bees landed on his body. In 2011, two brave beekeepers from China attempted to break the record again but failed to beak American Mark Biancaniello’s record when the winner of this match reached only 57 Pounds…
WATCH MY VIDEO WITH PEOPLE COVERED IN BEES
In 2009, an Indian man from New Delhi named Vepin Seth claims to have captured the new world record with a bee mantle of 137 pounds, but it took him 2.5 hours to gather that many bees. Many people claim this broke the rules as official contenders are only given 1 hour to attract bees.
SO YOU WANT TO ATTRACT BEES TO YOUR BODY? HERE’S HOW
The process of training bees to crawl over your body begins with a strong colony and young queen bee. A young queen is preferred for her strong pheromones, which keep the other bees under chemical allegiance.
First, a section of the population is separated from the colony, which gets them away from the defensive behavior they have. Along with the queen, they are transferred to a box. For two days, they’re fed a heavy diet of sugar syrup. Once they’re full of nectar they are in a nice serene state. The queen is then taken out of the box and placed in a plastic vial with tiny holes. The vial is draped around the neck of the bee bearder. The other bees swarm to the queen (to help the bees along, an orientation pheromone called Nasanov is often added to the box). Then, friends dump tons of bees on the bee bearder and presto – you have a mantle of bees crawling all over you. WARNING. Do not try this without the help of someone who knows what they are doing. 300,000 bee stings can kill you.