TikTok’s ‘Bee Lady’ Controversy, Explained
A viral TikTok creator known as the "Bee Lady" has been called out for allegedly unsafe bee-handling practices, among other controversies. The beekeeping community is now apparently trying to set the record straight on how to properly and safely interact with bees, and many are questioning if the "Bee Lady" is actually rescuing bees.
Below, find out about the latest drama that has everyone buzzing.
Who Is the TikTok 'Bee Lady' (a.k.a. @texasbeeworks)?
Erika Thompson, who goes by @TexasBeeWorks on TikTok, is a full-time beekeeper Thompson from Austin, Texas. She is the founder and owner of the company Texas Beeworks.
Thompson graduated from the University of Texas. In 2011, she took a beekeeping class as she wanted to learn about the insects. She created her first hive in her backyard and started her company in 2014 while simultaneously working as a full-time Communications Director. She has been notably featured on Jeopardy! and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Thompson has amassed over 6 million followers on TikTok for her videos, in which she handles swarms of bees with her bare hands during removal and relocation expeditions.
What Does @TexasBeeWorks Do?
Texas Bee Works is run by Thompson and aims to help both bees and beekeepers. The company manages numerous hives to maintain a healthy honeybee population and attempts to raise awareness about honeybees through "education, advocacy, and public outreach," according to the company's official website.
Thompson offers hive placement, removals and management services. She also gives beekeeping classic along with private lessons.
What Is the TikTok Bee Controversy?
Thompson has been called a fraud by some other members of the bee community. According to bee professional and TikToker Friday Chamberlain, a.k.a. @LAHoneyBeeRescue, it is apparently almost impossible to tell the difference between killer and harmless bees. She also criticized Thompson's choice to use little to no protection when coming in contact and handling swarms of bees. “[Thompson]’s setting a very dangerous precedent," she claimed.
Other experts question how much natural saving Thompson is doing as she seemingly relocates some of the bees to her own apiary.
Additionally, most professionals also put a disclaimer on their videos and profiles stating that they are professionals and that bees should only be handled with the proper gear and education.
Thompson notably helped out superstar Jason Derulo with a hive on his property. She encouraged him to handle the bees without protection and eat straight from a honeycomb with bees still on it. This has been disputed as dangerous among numerous professionals.
Thompson has not yet responded publicly to the allegations. It's still unclear if Thompson actually staged any of her bee rescue missions.