Emily Mueller, of Akron, Ohio, runs Mueller Honey Bee with her husband, Ryan. The company rescues unwanted bees from around Ohio and provides them with a comfortable, well-maintained hive, then sells them to anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper. For her pregnancy shoot, she went to friend and photographer Kendrah Damis with an idea: how about shooting with 20,000 swarming bees?
“I am a pretty calm person so not too much gets me overly reactive,” says Damis. “I wasn’t scared, just a little uneasy having them buzzing around me and landing on me.” To get the bees comfortable and unlikely to sting, she waited until they’d eaten more than their normal share of food, making them both sluggish and making stinging physically difficult due to their full bellies. (It’s sort of the same idea as when you eat so much that something as simple as bending over to tie your shoes seems difficult.)
Mueller held the colony’s queen in a small cage in her hand, which enticed the bees to come settle on and around her. Here’s a brief video of how that went:
The photo shoot went off safely, and hopefully now the newest Mueller baby – this will be the fourth – will know from birth that bees are friends, not foes.