The how and why of bee beards
If you are unfamiliar with such things, a bee beard is a stunt or trick. It is a way to get bees to cluster on a person’s face in such a way that it looks like a beard. If you’ve never seen this done, type “bee beard” into Google Image and you can see hundreds of them.
First, the how:
In order to make a bee beard (and I do not recommend it) you take the queen from a hive, cage it, and hang it around your neck—sort of like a necklace.
Next, block your ears and nose with some material, perhaps cotton, to avoid having the bees stroll around in those rather sensitive places. You can also spread Vaseline in any place where you don’t want the bees to collect. Some folks “design” their beards with the artistic application of Vaseline.
I’m told that some people smear honey on the areas where they want a lot of bees but, apparently, it isn’t necessary.
Next, your assistant—and I can’t imagine doing this without help—shakes all the bees from the now queenless hive onto a piece of newspaper. Then your assistant picks up the newspaper and pours the bees into your hands which are cupped in front of you at about chest height. The bees, sensing the presence of their queen, will crawl up your chest and neck and cluster around the queen. (Just the thought of this totally creeps me out.)
You are well advised not to move quickly, cough, snort, or sneeze. If you do get stung, you can’t react. And don’t scratch—any jostling could set them off. One of the difficult aspects of bee bearding is the weight. Although it is only a few pounds of bees, it can seem quite heavy, especially since you are remaining motionless.
By the way, before beginning the beard, be sure that someone is nearby with a camera, and that the camera contains film or a memory card and good batteries—you don’t want to have to repeat this process very often.
Once the pictures are snapped you have to remove the beard. This is the point where most people get stung. Someone removes your queen “necklace” and replaces her in the hive. Then someone can brush the bees off of you, or you can jump up and down, or you can just stand there and wait for them to leave. In my opinion, none of these options sound very good, but what do I know?
Now, the why:
Honestly, if I had any clue whatsoever as to why someone would construct a bee beard, I would write it for you here and now in the space below. However, I haven’t the foggiest notion, the least idea, or the slightest inkling of why someone would spend his (or her) time doing such a thing. Sorry. I really love my bees, but even I gotta wonder ‘bout some bee people some of the time.
Now, the warning:
I’ve written only a general outline of how bee beards are constructed. If you plan on doing it, get some advice from people with actual experience. I have no experience and don’t plan on getting any.