Do you or a member of your family have a strong fear of bees? This can be especially troubling if you are someone who enjoys being outdoors.
We share the environment with bees and other flying insects. So, it is inevitable that we will come into close contact on occasion. And most of us have had the unfortunate experience of a bee sting.
Showing respect and reservation when working around stinging insects is just plain good sense. But its okay to be afraid too.
Instead of being ashamed of your feelings of fear, getting to understand bees better may be of some help.
What is a Fear of Bees Called?
Most people have some fear of bees. Or rather, it is actually the fear of a bee sting that motivates our concern.
This is not surprising because bee stings hurt and it is natural to want to avoid pain. Few folks intentionally go towards bees. Well, we beekeepers do, but we are a strange group.
Do you have a very strong emotional reaction to potential bee stings? If so you are not alone, there is a recognized name for the condition.
Melissophobia or apiphobia is used to describe a fear of bees. This does not mean you have a serious condition just because you avoid stinging bees. However, the fear is a bigger issue for some folks.
Apiphobia Can Lead to Lifestyle Chances
If your fear of bees causes you to alter your lifestyle, it may be time to consider some changes. Everyone needs to be able to enjoy warm Summer days.
Most bees are attracted to sweet drinks and food available at family picnics. Stay away from park trash cans and other high risk areas but this doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all Summer.
Being afraid of bees to an extreme causes some people to avoid outdoor activities. They miss out on family events and sporting games that they would otherwise enjoy.
What Causes Someone to Develop a Fear of Bees?
Genetic & Learned Behavior Bee Phobias
Is this condition genetic? Is someone more likely to develop a severe fear of bees if their parents have it? Perhaps, this is so. But there is no strong research to confirm this to be a factor.
Learned phobias definitely do affect the reaction of others. If a parent runs screaming from every flying insect, small children often mimic the behavior.
When Mom or Dad “loses it” the kids certainly feel it is something to worry about.
Well Meaning Adults Teach Children to Be Afraid of Bees
If you are a caregiver for children, it is your job to protect them. You want to do everything in your power to prevent their pain and discomfort.
Unfortunately, this leads some adults to teach children to be afraid of bees. By having excessive reactions to a foraging honey bee, the adults encourage the child to be afraid.
We certainly don’t want toddlers to be trying to catch bees with their bare hands. However, older children can be taught to respectfully observe working insects.
Unless the child is allergic, watching bees work can be a very educational. Even young children can learn to tell the difference between bees and wasps. A respect for insects lessens their chance of stings.
Killer Bees News Stories Create Fear
News stories about Killer Bees created great public concern in regards to honey bees. These ” Killer Bees” are actually a hybrid bee. They are offspring of more defensive bees from Africa cross-bred with our honey bees.
“Africanized Bees” are a real problem in some areas of the US. However, they are not the killer bees of the horror movies. Though they have been responsible for human deaths, the vast majority of bees are not Killer bees.
If you live in an area that has Africanized Bees, contact your state agriculture department. This is the best source of information on how to protect yourself and your family.
Is the Fear of Bees and Wasps Irrational?
Not at all. Having a fear of bees or wasps is a reasonable emotion. Receiving many stings can cause great harm and even death.
A few stings will only cause pain and discomfort unless you are allergic to bees. With proper bee sting treatment, you should recover fully in a couple of days.
But, it is natural to want to protect your body from harm even when it is not a life-threatening event.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Bees
Learn to Understand the Different Types of Insects
The more you know about bees and wasps, the less chance there is of you getting stung. Learn to recognize wasps and various bees. Some insects are more aggressive or defensive than others.
If you know how to identify the different nests or hives of bees, it is possible to give them a wide berth. Most bees will protect a nest of young. Stay away from any type of nest or hive.
When you understand more about the insects you encounter outside, the chances of stings decreases. This gives you the knowledge you need to enjoy being outdoors with fear.
Exposure to Your Bee Phobia
Another method of dealing with your fear of bees is exposure. Instead of running- screaming with fear the next time you see a honey bee, stand still and watch.
Most honey bees will happily continue to forage while we observe them. As long as you are not near a nest, many bees to do not mind your observation.
After making sure there is not nest close by, try sitting in a chair near some flowers bees love. Avoid swatting at bees. Bees are very industrious and fun to watch.
If you begin to feel nervous or upset, get up and walk away. Don’t scream and swat at bees. This can be viewed as an aggressive reaction and may cause the bees to want to retaliate.
For those of you with a severe bee phobia, you may never have a desire to become a beekeeper. But, who knows – it might be something you could consider someday with a good mentor.
Regardless, overcoming some of your phobia about bees will enhance your enjoyment of outdoor living.