Although Thompson has uploaded several videos of her bee-keeping adventures on TikTok, her latest clip went viral after being viewed over 18.5 million times.
A woman sent shock waves through social media after posting a video of herself holding a handful of bees with her bare hands. Erika Thompson documented the moment she was called to remove a swarm of bees from an outdoor umbrella. She was seen bravely scooping the bees with her bare hands and loading them into a hive. What's more, the professional beekeeper in Austin was also seen removing an extra queen bee from her pocket and using it to move the others which were on the umbrella. Although Thompson has uploaded several videos of her bee-keeping adventures on TikTok, her latest clip went viral after being viewed over 18.5 million times, reports Daily Mail.
Throughout the video, Thompson explains the process of removing the bees. "A swarm of bees settled under this umbrella and I was called to remove them. So I started scooping bees off the umbrella and putting them into a hive," she said. "When bees are in swarms like this, it means that they're looking for a new place to live." Next, she showed the viewers a huge swarm of bees that have gathered on an umbrella, which is set on top of a picnic table at an apartment building. She then goes on to explain why she doesn't fear bees. "They tend to be very docile since they don't have any resources to defend. They don't have a hive, food or baby bees to protect."
"By the time I removed most of the bees, I still had not seen the queen. And I realized this was an unusual case of a queenless swarm," she added. Thankfully, Thompson had the thing that would help these buzzing insects. "The colony would not survive without a queen, but luckily I had an extra queen on me that I could give them," she said as she pulls a queen bee out of her shirt's front pocket. "As soon as I gave the queen to the colony, they rushed to meet her," she shared. "If they didn't accept her, they would try to kill her. If they did accept her, they would release her from the box by chewing through a piece of candy that stops up one end. As soon as the bees in the hive met the new queen, they began sending signals to the other bees to move off the umbrella and into the box. So I waited in the swarm of bees as the colony moved into their new home."
Within 15 minutes, almost all the bees had moved into their new home after accepting their new queen. Next, Thompson packed them up and brought them to her apiary on the Colorado River, "so they could continue the important work they do that's safer for them and for people." Just last year, Thompson created quite a buzz on TikTok after she was seen taking a bite out of the honeycomb even as the bees swarmed around her, reports Daily Mail. She was seen removing a beehive from the floor of a shed, scooping the honey bees out of the way using her bare hands, and finally taking a bite of the comb to sample the honey.
"Here's how I removed a beehive from a backyard shed," Thompson said in the video, noting that the bees lived under the floor. The fact that she only had a hat with a veil over her face as "protective gear" was enough to scare viewers. But Thompson seemed unfazed by this. "I carefully lifted the piece I cut out and discovered a beautiful hive full of honey," she explained, while zooming into the area with her camera. "Since the bees were gentle and it was over 100 degrees out, I took off my veil, enjoyed some fresh honey, and went to work removing bees."
For Thompson, beekeeping is an important job that she loves with all her heart. "Nothing compares to going into a wild hive of bees and not knowing what you’re going to find. You take off the cover, and you get to meet the bees," she told the Washington Post. "It’s just extraordinary to get to see what the bees built without any human intervention or interference. Most bees, and most honeybees, are docile and do not want to sting you." While Thompson's videos have attracted a lot of praise for her bravery, they have also been criticized for setting a dangerous precedent.
"I’m 100% okay with her showing how docile swarms are, but the fact is that she goes into removals without wearing any safety gear, wearing black leggings, a black tank top, and a dark blue shirt that’s unbuttoned overtop and knotted," says one user @LAHonetBeeRescue. "What she's doing, going and opening hives with her hair down, wearing dark clothes with exposed skin, is dangerous," they continued. "She doesn't show her wearing protective gear when she analyzes the hive at first. She shows herself removing comb her husband has pre-cut for her very courteously."
Cover image source: TikTok | @texasbeeworks