This Chinese Farmer Put on All these Bees for Nothing

Beekeeper She Ping set a record this week by donning a 73-pound mantle of live bees. Or did he?

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AFP / Getty Images

Chinese farmer She Ping gets covered with honey bees at his farmin southwest China's Chongqing municipality on April 18, 2012.

She Ping, a beekeeper and farmer near the southwestern Chinese city of Chonqing, attempted to set a record for the most bees worn on a human body. And while he successfully donned a buzzing, swarming bodysuit weighing 33.1 kilograms (73 pounds), due to the vagaries of international bee record scoring, he may have fallen short of his goal.

While She’s estimated 331,000-bee feat might sound like a lot, and while he handily beat the previous Chinese title-holder Ruan Lianming (who wore 26.8 kilograms of bees in 2008), that might be only one of the record holders he’s contending with.

Lu Jianshe / Xinhua / AP

The details are a bit murky; the Daily Mail reported on a contest in 2011 that saw 42-year-old beekeeper Wang Dalin reach the 26.8-kilogram (about 57 pounds) mark in winning an “hour-long duel” against fellow beekeeper Lu Kongjiang. A month earlier, in June 2011, beekeeper Zhang Xinglun donned an apiary coat himself, and Britain’s The Sun newspaper reported he had once held a record  83.6 pounds of bees on his body. (All of which begs the question, Why are all these bee-record hopefuls from China? And why are British tabloids so interested in them?)

But all these accomplishments may be for naught. The website of the Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t mention any of the Chinese bee-fashionistas; instead, it lists one Vipin Seth as wearing the world’s “heaviest mantle of bees.”

The Indian man wore a calculated 613,500 bees in his 61.4 kg mantle—which translates to a whopping 136 pounds and 4 ounces worth of bees, nearly double She’s recently-reported record.

Seth’s record was set in 2009 at the Indian Agriculture Research institute in New Delhi. A total of 54 colonies were used in that attempt, according to the Guinness Book’s website.