Weighing approximately one-tenth of a gram, bees are historically significant to human survival. These little creatures play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and contribute to human health and survival by safeguarding the global food supply. Without them, the availability of fresh produce would decline substantially, and human nutrition would likely suffer. Unfortunately, bees are now at risk of extinction primarily due to human activities such as the detrimental use of pesticides that destroy their habitats and food sources. To save the bees and protect humanity, Eli the Bee Guy takes the lead in rescuing and relocating them to beekeepers where they can be adequately cared for.
Born in Ukraine, Ilya Barkanov, better known as Eli the Bee Guy, is a bee whisperer rescuing bees all over southern California. Growing up, Eli was terrified of bees, but having a friend who kept them, piqued his curiosity about the little creatures. So finally giving in to his curiosity, he started tending to his friend’s bees. Still, despite wearing a bee suit, he got stung a lot as his friend kept the notorious Africanized killer bees because nobody else wanted them.
After that day, Eli fell in love with bees rather than getting discouraged by the painful stings. “I fell in love with bees, their process, organization, and design. Bees, in general, give off a peaceful vibe,” he said. He became so invested that he checked out all the books in the library about beekeeping, educating himself on how to care for them adequately. His dedication and knowledge soon paid off as his parents decided he could keep some bees.
However, after his experience with the “killer” bees, he wanted nicer ones, so he got the docile Italian bees. His bee colonies grew from one to over 100, which he rented to an orchard in northern California. As a teenage boy and a budding apiarist, the backbreaking work soon got too much for him, and he quit. At the same time, he found a side gig with his friend to rescue beehives from people’s roofs, walls, trees, cars, and anything with an opening and relocate them to a local beekeeper where they can be adequately cared for.
Cognizant of the immeasurable importance of bees, Eli’s teenage hobby became his full-time job, and he became widely known in Southern California as Eli the Bee Guy. “I have been rescuing bees since I was 15 years old and have made this hobby my full-time job because we need bees, and without them, we are doomed. 85% of crops rely on bees; without them, we couldn’t get our crops pollinated, and we would die of hunger,” he explained.
Through his platform, Eli creates content all over social media to educate, inform, and entertain people about bees, raising awareness on the care of the little creatures while providing people with a better and more environmentally-conscious way to rescue bees from unwanted places than exterminating them. In the coming years, Eli the Bee Guy aims to create more awareness about the creatures, rescue them and relocate them to a beekeeper where they can thrive.