The Bee Beard Experience

Wearing a beard of bees or “bee bearding” is a beekeeping amusement that goes back at least a couple hundred of years. Even non-beekeepers test their nerves and give it a try – just for the buzz.

dans-beard-of-bees2Here’s a description of what it feels like from first timer Dan:

Well, kind of nerve-wracking.
I was trying to smile, but I was kinda nervous.

And bees kept heading toward my mouth, so I was keeping it tightly shut!

I was warned that at first it would tickle, then it would feel prickly, and then it would get warm. It was like having an itchy wool scarf slowly moving up my neck under its own volition.

How it’s done

Bees are attracted by a queen’s pheromones. Attending beekeepers tie a caged queen around the neck of the “beardee”. They then drop the hive bees onto a sheet or cardboard near the queen. The bees will crawl up the chest of the beardee to cluster around the queen. That’s it. (Disclaimer: experienced beekeepers required to assist)

Here’s CBC’s Rick Mercer getting his very funny lesson in bee bearding.

Going for the Guiness book of Records

philip-mccabe-bee-beard-record-attemptIn 2005, Philip McCabe made an attempt at the world record for the “wearing” the most bees. His goal – 500,000 bees! While his attempt fell short of the 350,000 bee record he was attempting to beat, this article detailing the preparations and the accompanying photos are nothing short of amazing.

By the time his legs went numb and they “shaved” his beard, he’d been covered with 200,000 bees – weighing a total of 60 pounds! Try holding your arms steady like that without all those bees.

Sound like fun?

Bee bearding competitions and demonstrations are relatively common and are usually sponsored or hosted by apiaries or beekeeping organizations. If you have nerves of steel and can remain calm while wearing 10,000 or more bees, then you too can join this exclusive club.

 

 
 
Visit the Honeydoodles Store to find “Bard of Bees” aprons, cards, and more.

 
 
Images: Squidaddle; Galtee Bee Breeding Group