Mohamed Hagras stands barechested as dozens of honeybees congregate around his face, eventually forming what he calls the “Beard of Bees”. To attract the insects he has a box housing their queen’s hormones strapped to his chin.
The 31-year-old engineer-turned-beekeeper has been doing this for years both competitively – he fondly recalls a Canadian model’s “Bikini of Bees” at a beekeeping event – and as an effort to educate Egyptians on the usefulness of bees.
“The goal is to show that bees are not aggressive,” he told Reuters at his farm in Shibin El Kom, the capital of the Nile Delta province of Menoufia. “One the contrary, they are helpful and produce things that help humans and agriculture.”
Hagras extracts hormones from queen bees after they die and uses them to attract bees from the same hive to perform his show. He uses the same technique to form new hives, he says.
He uses the “Beard of Bees” at contests and exhibitions where like-minded people try to break world records. The current holder is a Chinese beekeeper who in 2015 covered his entire body with over a million bees, a combined weight of almost 110 kg (242.5 lb).
Other than honey and pollen, bees are also medicinal, Hagras says, adding that many people come to his farm to get stung in efforts to cure various diseases.