Video Shows Beekeeper Scooping Bees With Bare Hands to Move Them

Footage of a beekeeper scooping up bees by the handful has gone viral, captivating millions on TikTok.

The clip shows Erika Thompson, the founder and owner of Austin-based beekeeping company Texas Beeworks, relocating a swarm of bees that had settled on the underside of a parasol.

However, most captivating of all is the fact that Thompson carries out the task without specialist beekeeping equipment like a suit, hood, smoker or even protective gloves.

Instead, she simply scoops the bees up with her fingers, and places them onto a wooden beehive that she brought with her.

"When bees are in swarms like this, it means that they're looking for a new place to live," Thompson explains in the video.

"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, but they should have a queen."

However, after scanning each handful of bees she picked up, as well as those remaining in the cluster under the parasol, Thompson discovered that the swarm didn't contain a queen, which she described as an "unusual case."

A queen is essential to the survival of a colony. Queens are the only bees capable of laying fertilized eggs, and they also produce a pheromone that keeps the worker bees orderly and productive.

By some fortunate quirk of fate, Thompson had a queen bee with her on the day, which she introduced to the bees on the hive.

They quickly accepted her, and within around 15 minutes the rest of the bees that had remained on the umbrella joined them in the new hive, which Thompson relocated to her apiary on the Colorado River.

Thompson has previously told Newsweek that she uses protective equipment when she needs to, and that she's "learned how to read their behavior" over the course of her 10-year career.

"I think that we should have a healthy fear of bees as they can be potentially dangerous, but I also think that we should have a healthy understanding and respect for bees," she said.

According to World Bee Day, an organization run by the Slovenian government, bee populations declined by 33 percent in the U.S. in 2017, with insecticides, which have become increasingly toxic to bees, as well as habitat loss and climate change largely responsible.

It's estimated that bees help to pollinate nearly three-quarters of the plants that produce 90 percent of the world's food, making them a vital component in the global ecosystem.

Thompson, therefore, urges anybody looking to relocate a beehive to call in a professional beekeeper rather than an exterminator.

Bees clustering on a hive's honey frames
A stock image shows bees clustering on honey frames in a beehive. Bees are vital for the survival of every other species on the planet, as they pollinate the vast majority of the world's food. Christopher Lopez/iStock