When I saw these photos of a pregnant woman covered in 20,000 bees, I thought, “Wow, the sequel to Bee Movie is dark.” But, no, these aren’t promos for a film where an expectant mother is engulfed by insects horrified at the unnatural union of human and bee, but instead taken from an actual maternity photoshoot of an actual, real human woman pregnant with an actual, real human baby.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Emily Mueller from Ohio runs the Mueller Honey Bee Co with her husband, Ryan, and is therefore used to dealing with bees. In fact, she was recently dubbed the "bee whisperer" when she removed a huge swarm of bees from a hospital while pregnant and wearing absolutely no protective equipment. Emily had a normal maternity shoot booked in, but on the day it was set to happen she but received a call about a bee hive that needed removing. Instead of cancelling the shoot, she decided to use the bees – which weighed roughly four pounds altogether – in her photos.
Although the photos are amazing, horrifying (I can't stop staring at the one where she has a glove of bees and they’re crawling on her eyebrow, oh God, oh God) and exactly the kind of thing they must have known would go viral, there’s a more serious side to the photoshoot. As well as the three children that Emily and Ryan already have (Cadyn, Madelynn and Westyn), Emily has had three miscarriages. “Bees represent life and death,” Emily said. “These pictures are dedicated to life and death, to all of the children we've had."
And, apparently, the feeling of having bees crawling all over you isn’t that bad. “They all stick to you and they are very warm, so it’s almost like when a kitten is walking on you.” And she only got stung three times, which, considering she was covered in about 20,000 bees, is pretty good odds, right?
So, if you want to incorporate thousands of tiny stinging insects into your maternity photoshoot, here’s what you need to do: Emily fed the bees sugar, so they’d be happy and lazy, then got them to settle on her stomach and chest by kidnapping their queen and holding it in a cage in her hand. Easy-peasy covered in bees-y.
But also, please don’t incorporate thousands of bees into your maternity photoshoot. Seriously, please don’t. Do something funny with a dog, or your partner’s big round beer belly, or make a “That’s no moon” joke instead. Life’s too short and when you’ve got four pounds of bees crawling over you while you hold their queen hostage, it feels like it’s likely to get even shorter.