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A beekeeper from Texas has created quite a buzz for the videos she posts on TikTok. There is always someone who disapproves of an influencer. She stands accused by another TikToker of promoting dangerous practices when handling a hive. On June 3, 2021, reports buzzed that the accusatory video was viewed more than a million times.
TikTok user @LAHoneyBeeRescue asserted that @TexasBeeWorks, aka Ericka Thompson, improperly handles bees in posts. She contends the beekeeper is setting a dangerous precedent for her followers — six million of them.
In her viral video, @LAHoneyRescue says Thompson is opening hives wearing dark clothing, exposed skin, and her long hair hanging freely. She called the beekeeper’s actions dangerous.
Thompson owns a beekeeping company in Austin, Texas. She has accumulated a large following on social media with her videos documenting her work of ethical bee removal, writes Travis Andrews for The Washington Post. He writes about one of her videos;
She explains that she was asked to safely remove a colony of bees that have been living in a backyard shed for two years. At one point she lifts up a section of wooden flooring to expose hundreds of bees crawling over one another. A delighted grin spreads across her face.
On the TikTok post, scoops up the bees in her hands. She is calm with measured movements. She is not afraid. Her followers ask if she gets stung. One commenter said she was either especially crazy or brave.
But she simply loves bees, really loves them. She has hives in her backyard — over 50. Thompson understands what most beekeepers do, that being fearful agitates the bees. Pheromones attract them and that is when they are most likely to sting.
In the video referenced, she uses a smoker which calms bees. Beekeepers use smoke when they work their hives. It is not unusual to see a bare-chested beekeeper wearing a helmet/veil and short pants.
When an Oregon beekeeper was asked about Thompson’s videos, he commented on her easy demeanor saying the bee sense fear. If a person is fearful they will be stung by at least one bee if not more.
He said her TikTok videos, which have hundreds of millions of views, are not irresponsible. The beekeeper added: “@LAHoneyRescue’s statement that Thompson handles her bees in a dangerous manner is incorrect. And based on the other person’s user name, he or she knows that you cannot buy a sting when you’re walking through a swarm.”
Nonetheless, the complaining TikTok user claims the videos are staged and that Thompson’s husband pre-cuts the comb before she handles it on camera.
As the TikTok debate rages on, beekeepers jump on bandwagon Thompson, others believe @LAHoneyRescue, and still, others note that influencers have been known to stage their scenes. One user commented the job is not as glamorous a task as Thompson would have her viewer believe.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC: TikTok bee-f? TikToker’s critique of beekeeping influencer goes viral, by Kalhan Rosenblatt
The Washington Post: TikTok’s viral beekeeper is getting a lot of … buzz; by Travis Andrews
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of AlkiP0Ps’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License