She Ping, a 34 year-old local beekeeper, covered with a swarm of more than 460,000 bees. (AFP Photo)
A Chinese beekeeper covered his semi-naked body in more than 460,000 bees for a publicity stunt aimed at selling more of his honey, he told AFP on Thursday, using a technique known as "bee bearding".
She Ping, a 34-year-old honey merchant from the southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chongqing, covered himself in bees that collectively weighed more than 45 kilograms (100 pounds) in a display for a group of French photographers on Wednesday, he said.
Bee bearding is a global pursuit, and Indian Vipin Seth holds the world record for wearing a mantle of bees weighing 61.4kg (135 lbs), according to Guinness World Records' official video channel.
Participants generally attract the bees by placing a queen bee in a small cage hanging from their body.
Pictures of She's stunt show him posing topless beside more than a dozen blue hives, before the insects swarm over his body, which appears to be protected only by a plastic bag placed over his head.
"To be honest I felt very nervous, but I do it to promote my honey," She said, adding: "I'm used to dealing with bees... and started these activities when I was about 22."
Chongqing has emerged as a hotspot for bee bearders, with several other local honey merchants taking part, and honey shops with signs showing them covered in the insects visible in the city.
A pair of beekeepers in northwest China got married while covered in suits of bees, reports said in 2009.
"To be honest I feel very nervous, but I do it to promote my honey," She said, adding that he was stung more than 20 times during the 14-minute stunt.
"The main preparation is avoiding taking a shower, especially avoiding using soap because it can excite the bees," he said.
China is one of the world's major producers of honey, though its exports have been banned in several countries due to fears of counterfeiting.
She admitted that his attempt fell short of a world record, but claims the record for carrying out the stunt without any clothes.
"Of the people who do it naked, I'm probably the most awesome," he said.