The hive is fractured and just like Nicki Minaj once prophesied we are all now bees in the trap. (She was talking about real bees, right? Anyway!)
The online beekeeping community is buzzing over a much-beloved beekeeper, Erika Thompson (@texasbeeworks, pictured above), who was accused of staging her bee rescue missions in favor of a more Instagram-friendly aesthetic. Fellow beekeeper Friday Chamberlain (@lahoneybeerescue) posted a video accusing Thompson of smearing the craft by misrepresenting the work of bee swarm removal, thus staining the good name of women beekeepers. Thompson, for the most part, appears to be unscathed by the accusation and is still “following the bees.”
The video, which has been removed from TikTok after Thompson’s fans reported it, is one of the best takedowns of the wholesome beekeeping profession I have ever seen, as it is the only one I have ever seen.
Chamberlain, seen in the video above, wastes no time laying into Thompson with the real nitty-gritty shit that internet rivalries are made of: hair and clothes. Chamberlain argues that Thompson’s videos, which show her approaching swarms of bees dressed in a standard all-black mall walking outfit and her hair flowing free, are pretty to look at but ultimately unsafe. Thompson’s videos, which show her removing different sized swarms from various locations, which is her full-time job, come off as staged bee-fluencer propaganda, because the audience doesn’t see protective gear and the correct bee-saving hairstyle, key components of the craft. “Bees can get tangled in your hair,” Chamberlain says, as I thank my lucky stars I don’t have hair or beehives in my general vicinity.
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Thompson’s lack of tools seems to particularly irk Chamberlain. In nearly all her videos, Thompson removes bees with her hand placing them into a temporary hive. Sometimes she uses a steamer to calm them down, but for the most part, it’s a scoop and place system— despite the fact that some of these swarms are under the floorboard or inside walls. Logic leads one to think that Thompson would need some sort of tool to open a floorboard; Chamberlain believes that tool is Thompson’s husband. Chamberlain accuses the husband, who doesn’t appear in any swarm removal videos, of being the one “cutting comb” and opening any spaces for his wife so she can reach the bees.
Why this matters? I’m not sure, I don’t collect bees. But it seems to matter quite a bit to Chamberlain, who merely wants accurate representation on social media of the labor involved in bee rescue.
“She looks really pretty doing this and that’s because it’s faked,” Chamberlain says. Mic drop, the bees stop buzzing, the hive quakes.
“She’s setting a dangerous precedent,” Chamberlain says pointing out all the safety gear that Thompson should be wearing but isn’t in most of her videos. This is all fine, but if Chamberlain truly thinks that people are going to watch these videos and suddenly fancy themselves bee rescuers, do I have some news for her.