Fun fact: busy bee Angelina Jolie hosted a similar session in Paris earlier this year
If you were offered the opportunity to relive an elementary school class, would you take it? What if that class was taught by Angelina Jole? The actress, filmmaker and humanitarian taught a Guerlain Bee School session at Ecole Henri Barbusse, an elementary school in Clichy-sous-Bois (a suburb of Paris) earlier this year, as part of the brand’s ongoing mission to teach children about bees and how they positively affect our environment.
In fact, since launching the Bee School program in 2018, Guerlain has kept its promise that every employee of the brand teaches a Bee School session to elementary school-aged kids between the ages of 5 and 11. The program started in France but went global in 2021. Since then, almost 6000 children in over ten countries have been able to learn about the various issues facing bees and biodiversity conservation. Capturing and holding the attention of a room full of kids is no easy feat, but thanks to the initiative’s interactive and fascinating curriculum, including Q+A sessions, workshops, and games, it’s definitely doable. And we got the opportunity to experience the class first-hand.
Earlier this month, in preparation for World Bee Day on May 20th, we attended a ‘Beescapade’ hosted by Guerlain at Quebec organic honey farm, Miels d’Anicet, following a signature facial at the Guerlain spa at Four Seasons Hotel Montreal. Making it even more special, Guerlain’s Chief Sustainability Officer Cécile Lochard (who co-hosted the Clichy-sous-Bois class alongside Angelina Jolie back in January) was in town from France for the event. “I’m not a beekeeper but I think I could be now,” laughs Lochard. We got to learn all things bees, sustainability and Guerlain straight from the ultimate expert.
Additionally, from May 20th to May 22nd, 20% of the brand’s sales will be donated to the Guerlain for Bees Conservation Programme. Continue reading for some of the most interesting and un-bee-lievable facts we learned at Guerlain Bee School.
The Guerlain emblem has been a bee for 170 years
Guerlain was founded almost 200 years ago, with a bee as its emblem for 170 of those years. This started when founder Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain was tasked with creating a fragrance for Empress Eugénie’s marriage to Napoleon III in 1853. To do so, he collaborated with master glassmaker Pochet du Courval, who designed a stylish bottle adorned with bees—a long-standing emblem of the French empire. The end result was so beloved that the bee has remained at the heart of the brand ever since. “We’re extremely committed to celebrating the bee,” says Lochard. “Each May 20th, we celebrate everything the brand does to partner with scientific organizations toward the preservation of bees.”
The Queen Bee only eats royal jelly
A beehive’s Queen Bee is much larger than her crew because she lives off of a luxe diet of royal jelly (sometimes called ‘bee milk’), not honey and pollen like her worker bees. This helps her outlive the other honey bees, and makes her capable of laying more than 2000 eggs per day. Go off, queen.
There are 20,000 different species of bees around the world
“Bees belong to a family of insects called hymenoptera,” explains Lochard. This family has certain characteristics: three pairs of legs, two pairs of wings, and a three-part body. There are 20,000 species of bees around the world, but only two types: domestic and wild. Domestic bees live in colonies and produce honey, but they only make up 10% of the bee population. 90% of bees are wild bees, which are solitary insects. They don’t produce honey or have stingers.
Bees bring the heat—literally
Even in the coldest temperatures (like, winter-in-Quebec levels of cold), the inside of a beehive can remain at a temperature of four degrees Celsius. This is due to the muscular contractions of the bees, who are busy working away.
But the main takeaway from Guerlain’s Bee School? “Many people don’t even know that bees are endangered,” says Lochard. “We protect what we love, but we only love what we know. That’s why we developed Bee School in 2018, to pass down our love for bees to children.”