Bee beards have been around since the 1700s and up until a hundred years ago, honey vendors used them to attract customers, but now these organic disguises have their very own competition. Ever year, the world’s bravest apiarists gather in Aylmer, Ontario for the Clovermead Bees & Honey, Bee Beard Competition.
It’s not exactly the kind of contest people are dying to get into, for obvious reasons, but there are those who enjoy having tens of thousands of honey bees around their necks, or even covering their faces. The object of the Bee Beard Competition is to get as many bees on your body as possible. Contenders are weighed before and after they are covered in bees, and the heaviest one wins.
If you’ve ever wondered how on Earth these people get thousands of bees clustered on their bodies, today is your lucky day. As you probably already know, every bee hive has its queen, a kind of ultimate star of the bee world that everyone flocks to. All the competitors have to do is put the queen in a small cage, tie it around their necks and start pouring bees on their bodies. As soon as they smell her, honey bees begin to huddle around her.
While they can manipulate how the bee beard is going to look, by placing vasseline on its edges and keeping the bees contained to a certain area, wearing a bee beard isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world. It definitely offers unique thrills, but having literally tens of thousands of bees clinging to your skin is pretty hard to bear. The bees closest to your sking grab on to it, while the others cling to the bees, but your skin ultimately supports all their weight.
Then there’s the stings. Bees look for moisture and in its absesnce, as time passes they get more and more irritated, which ultimately results in a few stings on the bee beard wearer’s face and neck. When it’s time to take of the living beard, the queen is removed and the wearer leans over the bees’ colony box and jumps. The jerking move forces them to let go of their skin.
This year’s Bee Beard Competition winner was Tibor Szabo, from Guelph, Ontario, who managed to cover his entire head, neck, shoulders and hands with honey bees.
Photos by AP via Daylife