When commercial beekeeper Bethany Karulak-Baker decided to have a maternity photoshoot after getting pregnant, it seemed only natural that her job and life might feature as part of it.
However, Bethany decided to do something most people would wince at, staging the shoot so that thousands of bees were sat on her tummy.
38-year-old Bethany lives in Steamboat Springs in Colorado with her husband Perry and children, running a raw honey business called Outlaw Apiaries.
The reasoning behind the shot was certainly not just for shock value or to get a cool picture. In fact, there was a very sad backstory for Bethany and her family.
‘About a year ago, I suffered an extremely traumatic miscarriage,’ Bethany said on Facebook.
‘I was hospitalized, broken hearted, filled with self-blame, and distraught. As we drove away from Yampa Valley Medical Center, after losing our baby, I recall tearing up with the realization that my baby was left alone inside those brick walls; ultimately to be shipped away and examined.’
After falling into a depression and struggling with her mental health, Bethany became pregnant once again. But this time she was gripped with doubt and fear, refusing to even tell loved ones as she was scared she may have another miscarriage.
Then the pandemic hit, adding even more challenges to an already worried and isolated experience. But, Bethany says: ‘There was a massive silver lining to this presumably dark cloud. We, as a family, grew to love and support one another more than I could have ever imagined.’
Bee maternity photoshoot
Bethany and her husband Perry (Picture: Brooke Welch of Steamboat Springs)
Off the back of this, Perry and Bethany decided to challenge themselves with their photoshoot, working with their hives to have them ‘beard’ around her over-eight-months-pregnant stomach.
The allergy issue was the first thing to worry about. Bethany told Metro.co.uk: ‘I have a local reaction which means I get welts that itch and last for up to six weeks. They are extremely annoying but not at all dangerous.’
Bethany was ‘terrified’, but had the shoot approved by doctors beforehand.
As a result, though, the couple decided to use nurse bees, who are more docile and easier to handle.
Bee maternity photoshoot
It’s now around a week until the baby is due (Picture: Brooke Welch of Steamboat Springs)
Finding a photographer was the next hurdle, with the pair taking 10 attempts to find the perfect person, eventually choosing Brooke Welch.
Then there was the logistics. Bethany said: ‘We tethered a queen around my belly while she was in her cage. It is common practice to place queens in cages and doesn’t hurt her whatsoever.
‘Once we tied her around my belly, we had to ensure the temperature was perfect (cloudy and cool) as well as chose to work with nurse bees (who are the most docile).
‘We chose frames filled with nurse bees and removed them from the hive. I held a folder under my belly and we dumped the bees onto my belly and the climbed up from the folder to “beard” around the queen in her cage.