How far would you go to promote the conservation of your favorite animal? Chances are, not as far as beekeeper Johny Abou Rjeily did (and does) for his beloved bees. That’s not to say you don’t love elephants or whales or panda bears, but not many of us would be willing to allow hundreds of bees to swarm on our beards or bare skin to prove a point.
Lebanese beekeeper Johny Abou Rjeily has been making waves across social media for years thanks to his unorthodox – and slightly horrifying – contribution to the “save the bees” initiative.
To prove that bees are friendly, docile creatures and not tiny menaces out to sting as many people as possible, Rjeily regularly uses himself as a human beehive. After placing hundreds if not thousands of the insects on his body, the beekeeper posts the results online, speaking about the importance of bees while literally swarming with them.
Rjeily’s antics are a jarring sight, to say the least. But no one can say that the JAR Honey founder and agricultural engineer hasn’t been successful in spreading his message. Using his bee beard, the beekeeper has spread his message to millions upon millions of viewers on TikTok alone.
According to the official JAR Honey website, their mission is to “expand the honeybee population beyond Lebanon, having in mind one healthier and safer world to live in.”
The company goes on to explain that, “by supporting bees, we can increase food security for people. … As crucial pollinators, those tiny creatures are responsible for the production of around 70% of edible flora around us, a work worth $100 billion globally each year.”
Beekeeper With Bee Beard Spreads Important Message About Pollinators
Is covering your body and beard in bees a strange way to spread a message about conservation? Sure. But that doesn’t make Rjeily’s message any less important.
Despite being crucial to the world’s ecosystems and food chains, bees are disappearing at a rapid pace. Since 2006, commercial beekeepers in the United States have reported losing an average of 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each winter. For comparison, the historical loss rate hovers between 10 and 15 percent.
To stop or reverse this decline would require large-scale changes in habitat protection and other environmental efforts. In starting JAR Honey, however, Rjeily hoped to do his part to combat some of these losses. “Working against pesticides, fungicides, toxic waste, and climate change, bees also suffer from the use of traditional and old beekeeping methods,” JAR explained.
“Working with agricultural engineers, vets, medical doctors, and research laboratories, we interfere here, at the point of harvest, to save the bees, refine their honey, train keepers, and make the planet a better, safer, and cleaner place.”