When she’s not kicking butt onscreen, actress Angelina Jolie has built up quite a reputation as a humanitarian, and her latest venture might be the most creative yet. In partnership with National Geographic for World Bee Day, the Those Who Wish Me Dead star took part in a photo shoot that required her to be covered with live bees in order to raise awareness. According to National Geographic, Jolie has been involved with “UNHCR as a special envoy, and now she’s also working with UNESCO and Guerlain on a Women for Bees initiative that will ultimately build 2,500 beehives and restock 125 million bees by 2025—while training and supporting 50 women beekeepers.”
Photographer Dan Winters explained on Instagram what it took for the daring shoot to happen successfully, and it sounds like it was quite a technical endeavor. “I’m a beekeeper, and when I was given the assignment to work with Angelina, my main concern was safety,” Winters explained. “Shooting during the pandemic, with a full crew and live bees, made the execution complex.” Ultimately, Winters was able to pull it off by utilizing a specific pheromone to keep the Italian bees calm.
“Everyone on set, except Angelina, had to be in a protective suit,” Winters continued. “It had to be quiet and fairly dark to keep the bees calm. I applied the pheromone in the places on her body where I wanted bees to congregate. The bees are attracted to the pheromone, but it also encourages them not to swarm. We also placed a large number of bees on a board that rested in front of her waist. Angelina stood perfectly still, covered in bees for 18 minutes without a sting.”
The Oscar winner was named “godmother” for Women for Bees, and she will participate in a 30-day program in Provence, France, where she will be trained as a beekeeper. Jolie explained in the National Geographic interview that her children were “much more informed” about the importance of environmental causes than she had been at their age. “Listen, it’s down to their generation,” she stated matter-of-factly. “We’re at the wire. Decisions made and things that we do in the next 10, 20 years are going to make or break the way we’re able to live on this planet. Sadly, they know that. That’s very hard for them. I can’t imagine being a little kid again. Whether the Earth will be able to exist in the same way, and whether there will be bees and pollination, was not something I was thinking about at 12 years old.”
Jolie also opened up about the weirdness of the bee shoot and how she couldn’t shower for three days ahead of time. “It was so funny to be in hair and makeup and wiping yourself with pheromone,” Jolie said. “We couldn’t shower for three days before. Because they told me, ‘If you have all these different scents, shampoos and perfumes and things, the bee doesn’t know what you are.’ … Then you put a few things up your nose and in your ears so you don’t give them as many holes to climb in.”