So you’ve survived Movember and you’ve got a bristly facial ferret nestled under your nose to show for it. You’ve even grown rather fond of the furry little rascal.
But the month is over! By the time you get back to work or school on Monday, most of your fellow fellows will have sent their ‘staches spiraling down the bathroom sink.
Can’t bear the thought of a month without rocking a peculiar facial fashion? Why not participate in Beecember — an entire month of wearing a beard of bees! You’ll surely be applauded for your self-sacrifice, and it would be a great way to raise awareness and funds for a charity of your choice (perhaps one that benefits victims of allergic reactions to insect venom).
Did we just make up the concept of Beecember? Yes.
Does the pastime of competitive “Bee Bearding” have a rich and fascinating history? Yes.
Do we actually think you should spend a month wearing a beard of bees? Not without doing some research first. So here you go:
Bee Bearding Facts
History: The practice of wearing a beard made up of hundreds or even thousands of honeybees dates back to ancient times, when beekeepers performed the feat to demonstrate their rapport with the stinging insects. A text dating back several-thousand years quotes one such beekeeper as proclaiming: “Ouch! Goddammit!”
The modern era of bee bearding began with iconic 19th century beekeeper Petro Prokopovych, who, along with inventing several fundamental beekeeping techniques and devices still used to this day, started wearing bees on his face for some reason. The Ukrainian Institute of Beekeeping is named after him. True facts.
Bee Bearding Grows Up: Throughout the 19th and 20th century, Bee Bearding emerged as a popular — but not exceedingly popular — attraction at sideshows and agricultural fairs. Eventually, beekeepers began using the technique as an educational tool to demonstrate the power of pheromones and the infinite human capacity to think of weird stuff to try.
How it works: Bees aren’t naturally inclined toward making beardlike formations, but they can be encouraged. A whackload of bees is separated from the colony, which makes them less defensive, and then fed a steady diet of sweet nectar, which makes them placid and happy (how could it not?). Then the queen bee is placed in a small receptacle affixed under one’s chin. All the loyal worker bees flock to their queen, latching onto any available facial skin or fellow bees they can find. Presto: beard of bees.
The Competition Heats Up: For some people, simply wearing a decent-sized bee beard isn’t enough. The Guinness Book of World Records includes an entry for Heaviest Mantle of Bees, which extends beyond the face to cover the entire body. The current record holder is Ruan Liangming of China, who covered his entire body with an estimated 621,000 bees, including 56 queens, tipping the scales at 136 pounds.
Nothing Says “I Love You” Like A Bee Beard: Three years ago, a Chinese couple got married while they were both fully cloaked in bees. The blushing bride said: “It was an amazing feeling to have a carpet of living bees moving over my body. I could feel them as they moved around — it was amazing. I have always loved bees but this was a totally new experience.” Who says romance is dead?
Beecember Advice: Start slow. Nobody becomes a record-holder overnight. A few hundred bees is quite enough. Frankly, it’s more than enough. Come to think of it, we can’t in good conscience recommend anyone actually participate in Beecember. But if you must, just try not to go overboard: