Every year in Ontario, Canada, the Clovermead Bees & Honey, Bee Beard Competition is held. Categories include squeezing honeycomb, lighting smokers, suiting up quick, and building bee boxes, and catching bees.
The category highlighted in the name of the competition, Beebearding, is the most awe-inspiring by a mile. Beebearding is a tradition that dates back to the 1700s, invented by an English beekeeper who created a beard of bees by tying the queen bee to a thread around his neck.
In a recent interview with Daily Mail, professional beekeeper Melanie Kempers explains the beard process:
"'Every colony has one queen,' she says. 'They all recognize her by smell. We put her in a small plastic cage and tie it around the neck, and we take the bees from her colony.'
'We put them onto newspaper, and then pour them into a pair of hands just below the queen. They smell her and walk up towards her. Once they smell her, they huddle around her, that's what creates the certain look.'
'You can definitely manipulate the bees. A lot of contestants put Vaseline along the edges so the bees can't get above a certain level. It feels like monkeys in a barrel. The original bee holds onto the face and they hold on to each other.'
'It's kind of little claws, holding on to the skin, If I try to move my face, they hold on with all their might, it feels like a sunburn. The skin is tight.'"
The contestants pictured below have about 5 lbs of bees covering them. At 10,000 bees per pound, that's a hell of a lot of bees.
Crazy Canadians. (See previously: Try Stuffing Your Face With 5.9 Kilos of Poutine).