Angelina Jolie is changing the world. The actress and activist participated in a powerful new spread for National Geographic in honor of World Bee Day, and she got up close and personal with her co-stars — dozens of bees. Angelina posed perfectly still for 18 minutes as the little bumblers crawled all over her face and neck, a feat she was happy to undertake in order to bring awareness to global conservation efforts. See the stunning results of the shoot in the video above.
Angelina looked radiant (and impressively calm) while surrounded by the bees. It was tremendous group effort. Photographer Dan Winters explained on Instagram that he was inspired by photographer Richard Avedon‘s iconic 1981 beekeeper photo, and used his same technique for Angelina’s portrait. He dotted the Maleficent star with a special pheromone (queen mandibular pheromone, or QMP) to direct the bees where to go.
“It was so funny to be in hair and makeup and wiping yourself with pheromone,” Angelina said in National Geographic. “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.”
Angelina never got stung — but there was a close call. “I did have one that got under my dress the entire time. It was like one of those old comedies. I kept feeling it on my knee, on my leg, and then I thought, ‘Oh, this is the worst place to get stung. It’s getting really close,’ the The Eternals actress said. ‘It stayed there the entire time we were doing the shoot. And then when I got all the other bees off, I lifted the skirt and she went away.”
The photoshoot was important to Angelina, who has been dubbed a “godmother” for Women for Bees, a program created by UNESCO that trains female beekeepers. She explained why it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about bee conservation. Bees pollenate roughly three quarters of plants that produce 90% of the world’s food. A world without bees means widespread famine and loss. Pollution and climate change is taking a drastic toll on the bee population.
“With so much we are worried about around the world and so many people feeling overwhelmed with bad news and the reality of what is collapsing, this is one that we can manage,” Angelina said. “I don’t think a lot of people know what damage they’re doing. A lot of people are just trying to get through their day. They want to do good… I have six kids and a lot happening and I don’t know how to be the ‘perfect’ anything. And so if we can help each other to say, ‘This is a way forward, simple, and this is something you can do with your kids.'”