Video of Beekeeper Erika Thompson Scooping Bees With Hands Viewed Almost 60 Million Times

A video of a beekeeper humanely relocating thousands of bees from a backyard shed has gone viral on TikTok, with the video's owner saying she has been shocked at the response.

Erika Thompson, founder of Texas Beeworks, can be seen in the footage kneeling down and handling pieces of beehive with no protective gear as she removes them from the shed and places them in a new hive for relocation.

The video has proved to be very popular on TikTok, and had been viewed nearly 60 million times on the morning of March 16. In addition, it had received 11.5 million likes and over 200,000 comments. The clip can be seen below.

Thompson told Newsweek: "I have been completely overwhelmed by the response to my video, particularly because it really was just an average day on the job for me. The backyard shed removal that you see in the video was actually a fairly typical day on the job!

"I've certainly seen much, much larger hives! I've removed hives from walls that were 8 feet-plus of comb with floor-to-ceiling bees before."

Thompson said she began recording videos of her bee relocation process in order to document the job for her clients, who tend to avoid being around while the work is underway.

She then began sharing them online, where they started to attract attention. Thompson saw it as an opportunity to educate people about the work she does, as well as to shine new light on the insects themselves.

She told Newsweek: "I hope that after watching my videos people will have a new understanding and appreciation for bees... and for all that bees do for us."

"There are over 20,000 species of bees and bees are vital to the health and diversity of our ecosystem and our food system. On average, bees are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat.

"If you see bees out in the world, the best thing to do is to just leave them 'bee.' But if they pose a threat to the safety of people or animals, you should always call a professional beekeeper to remove and relocate the colony. An exterminator will likely come in and kill the bees, leaving their hive and everything in it behind."

One aspect of the video that has captured viewers' attention is how calm the beekeeper remains handling thousands of bees while wearing no protective gear—not even gloves. For Thompson, the experience is relaxing, rather than anxiety-inducing. "When you go into a hive of 50,000 bees, there is no other way to be besides calm," she said.

"And I think many people assume it would be complete chaos in a hive full of tiny insects, but it's actually very calm and orderly. As a beekeeper, I find it very calm and almost meditative to be with the bees."

At this point in her career, Thompson has learnt to read bees' behavior well enough to know when she does or does not need to wear protective gear to prevent being stung.

"I've been working with bees for 10 years. Over that time, I've learned how to read their behavior, how to handle them respectfully and perhaps most importantly, I've learned to listen to the bees.

"I always wear protective gear when I need to. In general, most honeybees do not want to sting you. And like other creatures, they will send you signs and signals to tell you how they're feeling.

"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."

Thompson said she hopes people are aware there are beekeepers like herself who are on hand to relocate bees if necessary.

Bees are prolific plant pollinators and are widely regarded as vital to the ecosystem. According to World Bee Day, an organization run by the Slovenian government, bees help pollinate nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90 percent of the world's food.

They are also susceptible to climate change, habitat loss, and diseases that spread through colonies. Beekeepers have reported they're losing on average 30 percent of honeybee colonies every winter in recent years, according to Environment America.

A couple of honey bees
A stock image shows two honey bees on a piece of honeycomb. The insects are regarded as vital for the ecosystem through pollination. balwan/iStock