“I’ve just done a practice bee beard on myself and I got stung about four times.”
These weren’t quite the words I hoped to hear as I arrived at Quince Honey Farm in South Molton, preparing to have a bee beard myself.
I had seen various photos of people with bees hanging off their chins and always assumed it was a fairly easy process during which nobody got stung.
However, I soon realised this wasn’t quite the case.
I was asked if I had been stung by a bee before and, unfortunately for me, my parents couldn’t quite remember if I had.
Being stung previously was a prerequisite for having the bee beard, so two days before the big day I travelled to Quince Honey Farm to be purposely stung.
While it undoubtedly hurt, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be, plus co-owner Ian Wallace told me the bee was dying anyway so I didn’t feel any guilt about its impending death.
Back to the bee beard itself.
Having already heard Ian had been stung four times and, having watched the various stings on his face gradually becoming more swollen and red, I was getting nervous.
We went up to the new auditorium room where the public will soon be able to watch victims being given bee beards.
I had Vaseline smeared all over the top half of my face to stop the bees venturing too far upwards.
I went into a room with a glass window so my boyfriend could watch my torture and a Journal photographer could capture it all on camera.
First, Ian sought out the queen bee, who was in a small cage, and using a bit of string and velcro attached it so it sat on my chin.
I had to then gently lower my head towards the swarm of bees and they began clambering onto my face.
The hardest part was getting over the urge to swipe the stray bees away from my eyes, ears, hands and anywhere else they cared to land.
Slowly but surely the beard took form. After about 10 minutes I couldn’t quite believe I hadn’t been stung. I felt certain it was coming.
Ian asked if I wanted a third lot of bees to clamber onto the beard to which I waved the white flag.
Miraculously, I escaped without a single sting.
The whole experience was far from pleasant, but one I’m pleased I did.
All the staff at Quince were fantastic and I thoroughly recommend a visit there — if only to see fools like me with bees all over their faces.
THE public will get the chance to watch people having bee beards during Quince Honey Farm’s Easter event this weekend.
Live bee beard shows will be held there for the first time during the event on Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13.
They will be taking place in the new building above the new museum, and bee beard talks will be happening every day throughout the holidays.
There is also Easter egg hunts to win lots of yummy prizes plus meet the Easter bunny himself.
Bunnies and chicks will be in the play area, next to the brand new Critter Cabin with lots of creepy crawlies to encounter including Doris the tarantula, giant African snails, scorpions and many more.
There will be lots of new displays in Bee World, along with Easter cakes on offer in the play area café.
The Easter event is free for members or otherwise normal admission prices apply.