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I Can't Get Enough Of The TikTok Bee Drama

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I Can't Get Enough Of The TikTok Bee Drama

If you're sad Mare of Easttown is over, rejoice, for I have found your next dramatic obsession: the TikTok bee drama. Trust me, what it doesn't have in Kate Winslet vaping, it makes up for in, well, bees.

First, allow me to set the scene. The year is 2021, and bee influencers are not only a very real thing — they're now in the midst of a huge feud. And Erika Thompson, aka Texas Bee Works, aka the "Texas Bee Lady," is at the center of it all. With 6 million followers on TikTok, Thompson has taken over the bee influencer game with her videos, which feature her rescuing and relocating swarms all over the place — from under a water meter box to Jason Derulo's house. You might think that her viral success would make other beekeepers and rescuers happy, but you'd be very, very wrong.

@texasbeeworks

Saving the bees with the amazing @jasonderulo and @beeleafusa ! ##bees ##honey ##explore ##fyp ##insane ##nature

♬ original sound - Erika Thompson

Enter: LA HoneyBee Rescue, another bee rescue account on TikTok, albeit a much smaller one, with 22.5K followers as of Thursday, June 3. On May 22, LA HoneyBee Rescue posted a series of videos calling out Thompson and Texas Bee Works for creating a false image of what bee removal really entails. "She is a bee keeper," LA HoneyBee Rescue said, "But she's not a bee removal specialist." Noting Thompson's lack of power tools, ladders, and protective gear in her hive removal videos, LA HoneyBee Rescue claimed that Thompson clearly had help doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes, and would just come in later to finish up the job without telling the truth to her millions of followers. "I'm straight up calling her out and saying, 'What you do is fake,'" she said.

I told you there'd be drama!

LA HoneyBee Rescue's main point of contention with Texas Bee Works seems to be the lack of transparency, specifically when it comes to the safety protocols that have to happen before you go scooping up bees with your bare hands. "What she's doing, going and opening up hives with her hair down, wearing dark clothes with exposed skin is dangerous," LA HoneyBee Rescue said in one of her videos.

@lahoneybeerescue

And all of this makes it seem like all wild bees in Texas are friendly when it’s actually the polar opposite. Back to your regularly scheduled program

♬ original sound - LA HoneyBee Rescue

In a follow up a few days later, LA HoneyBee Rescue added that what Texas Bee Works was doing was essentially "posing as bee removal Barbie," officially turning this saga into a full on reality show, and I am hooked. But that's not all. Adding insult to injury, after LA HoneyBee Rescue's videos went viral, their account was reportedly temporarily suspended, but now appears to be back online.

And LA honeyBee Rescue isn't the only account in the online bee community to call out Texas Bee Works. The account @entomologyabby, whose profile states she is an entomologist who "specializes in pollinator conservation" also shared her thoughts on Texas Bee Works last month. Though she didn't directly attack Thompson's beekeeping methods, she did note that the organizations' website doesn't specify which species of bees they are meant to protect, and she criticized them for seemingly only looking after honey bees.

Now, fans are duking it out in comments and on Twitter, with some starting to challenge Texas Bee Works, and others adamantly defending Thompson and accusing LA HoneyBee Rescue of not practicing what they preach. One TikTok video from May 1, a collaboration with @partyshirt, does appear to show LA HoneyBee Rescue handling a swarm of bees without protective gear. However, it should be noted that this video is not actually of a rescue of a wild swarm, but of bees already rescued, apparently waiting for transport to safety. And, in most of the LA HoneyBee Rescue videos, they appear to be wearing more traditional protective gear.

I don't know who's telling the truth, but personally, I'm Team LA HoneyBee Rescue on this one, and it's not just because I'm biased against anyone who is a pretty, skinny, blonde influencer (sorry, it's just my truth). It just seems like there's definitely more going on behind the scenes that Thompson isn't showing in her Texas Bee Works videos. And as someone who saw the movie My Girl, I think the more careful people are around bees, the better. Macaulay Culkin did not die tragically to be disrespected like this.

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Image: Erika Thompson/Instagram

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