A New Franklin woman has created a buzz on social media over a rather unusual maternity photo shoot.

With the help of a Massillon photographer and thousands of bees, Emily Mueller, a beekeeper by trade, posed Monday with a swarm covering her pregnant belly. The images went viral and were shared all over the country.

While the photos look ominous, Mueller said, a fair number of precautions were taken before the photo shoot was set up.

For one, Mueller said, she and her husband, Ryan, own the Mueller Honey Bee Co. and harvest honey from hives they have all over the county. They also assist homeowners and businesses who might need help removing a hive.

The bees used in the photo shoot were one such hive.

Mueller said she captured the hive earlier in the day in Wadsworth, and it seemed like a docile bunch.

As a further precaution, she made sure the bees had full bellies and would not be as active.

Like humans, bees with full bellies become sluggish, and their bloated stomachs make it harder for them to curl and extend their stingers.

She joked that she has always wanted to have a picture with a bee beard, but decided it would be fun to have a bee-related shot for the arrival of their fourth child.

The couple’s children now include Cadyn, 10; Madelynn, 3; and Westyn, 1.

Mueller, who is due in mid-November, said she also consulted with the family’s doctor and other experts to ensure there was no chance the baby could be harmed.

Just in case, the couple had bee supplies at the ready should the swarm that numbered around 20,000 need to be contained quickly.

To attract the bees, Mueller said, she had the queen in a small container hidden in her hand so the hive would envelope itself around her.

She did get stung four times during the photo shoot, twice when she squished a pair that got caught between her leg and an arm.

Another took exception when she pretended to kiss another bunch.

“Those bites were all my fault,” she said. “Bees will only respond to you doing something they don’t like — like sitting on one.”

Photographer Kendrah Damis said this is the most unusual photo shoot of her young career.

She said she has been friends with Emily for some time and trusted she knows a thing or two about bees.

But she did keep a safe distance.

“I am not a bee person,” Damis said. “I didn’t have any experience photographing bees before.”

Mueller, who also inspects hives in Summit County, said she suspected the photos might create a stir but had no idea they would go national.

She said she wanted the photos for the family album, and any publicity it creates to dispel misconceptions about bees is a bonus.

“Working with a hive is just another day for a beekeeper,” she said. “That might sound crazy to some, but it really was.”

Craig Webb can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3547.