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TikTok goes berserk after beekeeper is accused of failing to implement proper safety protocols

Erica Thompson, the woman featured in the account, was not seen wearing any of the equipment often associated with beekeeping, such as a bee suit or gloves. Instead, she calmly moves the bees with her hands, while the narrator with a voice over explains her process.

The beekeeper in Austin, Texas, has become a viral star, with 6 million followers and 80 million only likes TikTok, even helping singer Jason Derulo remove the hive from his home.

But Friday Chamberlain, who practices LA HoneyBee Rescue at TikTok and says they are bee removal specialists, said Thompson’s videos actually set a “dangerous precedent”

; for how to safely interact and care for bees.

In a number of TikTok videos, Chamberlain says Thompson’s videos show all the things one should not do during beekeeping, such as wearing dark colors that can lead to bee attacks or leaving her hair down, which can catch bees and cause stings on the neck or face.
“I’m 100% good when she shows how obedient swarms are,” Chamberlain said in a video. “But the fact is that she enters without wearing any protective equipment, wearing black leggings … she sets a very dangerous precedent.”

In an interview with CNN, Chamberlain, who has worked with bees since 2002, explained that the videos were originally intended only for their narrow circle of followers and were not intended to blow them up. Still, removing the bees is far from a safe task that Thompson is doing, Chamberlain said.

“Her work really affects us all, the perception of the work, the perception of the lightness in it, the danger,” Chamberlain said. “It got a fever and I was like ‘enough is enough.’ This is the reality of the job. What it does is create content. What she does for honey bees is fantastic – she works on anti-pesticide legislation and whatnot, but she’s not a bee removal specialist. “

How intelligent technology could help save bees in the world

In a statement to CNN on Monday, Thompson said: “As a professional beekeeper, my mission and goal is to help people understand how important the work of bees and beekeepers is to our world. The content I share is real and shows how beekeepers help people and bees in need every day – wearing protective clothing when needed. Only experienced beekeepers should work with bees and perform bee removal services. ”

In an earlier statement posted on Instagram on Saturday, Thompson addressed the controversy, calling the allegations “false and hurtful.”
And last fall, in response to people criticizing her for not wearing protective gear, Thompson told Texas Monthly: “I think it’s good for people to have a healthy fear of bees. We have to respect them – they can do a lot of harm to bees. people, “adding,” But I think it was a lot of an element to see how someone handles creatures that you don’t usually see people to work with. “
Barbara Baer-Imhuff, an assistant pollinator’s health specialist at the Center for Integrative Bee Research at the University of California, told CNN that the university always teaches novice beekeepers to wear full suits with veils, gloves and boots that cover the ankles. Even veterans, she said, must wear full suits when they first approach unfamiliar colonies.

“Personally, I wouldn’t approach a colony I don’t know without wearing a full suit,” said Baer-Imhuf, who has been working with honey bees since 2005. “At Riverside, you dress like this and we learn like responsible beekeeping.” “

If she was familiar with the hive, Baer-Imhuf said she could only wear half a suit with a veil and give up gloves, depending on the job. But that was only after a few years of experience.

“Honey bees are wild animals,” she explained. “Beehives have different personalities; you don’t know who you will meet and in what mood the hive will be.”

Like Baer-Imhoof, Ashley Ralph, president of the Texas Beekeepers Association, told CNN that sometimes professional beekeepers choose to wear less protective clothing if they are familiar with the hive. Thompson seems familiar with bees, she said, and her choice of equipment is “entirely hers.”

“Erica’s approach has a place in attracting new eyes and ears that could become protectors of bees or even beekeepers,” Ralph said. “At TBA, we spend time talking about protective facilities and the risk of beekeeping because we worry that without talking about the risk of bees, we could actually cause more harm to honey bees and beekeepers in the long run by encouraging irresponsible or even practical beekeeping practices that lead to bad bees or experience with bees. “

Still, Ralph said, leaving the accusations aside, Chamberlain “made some solid warning points to the general public.”

“Leave the removal of the bees to the professionals,” Ralph said. “Bee grabbing can sting you.”

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