Fear Of Bees: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment

Fear of bees (or bee stings), technically known as misophonia (from Greek: μέλισσα, melissa, “honey bee” +, Phobos, “fear”), sometimes misspelled as melisaphobia and also known as apiphobia ( from Latin APIs for “honey bee” + Greek: φόβος, Phobos, “fear”), it is one of the common fears among people and is a kind of specific phobia.

Most people have been stung by a bee or have had friends or family who has been stung. A child can be the victim of stepping on a bee while playing outside. The sting can be excruciating, and in some individuals, it results in swelling that can last for several days and can also lead to allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, so developing a nasty fear of bees is quite natural.

Most of the time, the fear caused by these insects, especially in adults, is the lack of knowledge. Since bees attack when they feel threatened, it is an automatic mechanism that activates those who defend against the destruction of their hives, and an occasional bee in a field does not present danger. Additionally, most insect stings in the United States are attributed to yellow jacket wasps, often mistaken for honey bees.

The irrational fear of bees in humans can also have a detrimental effect on ecology. Bees are essential pollinators, and when people destroy wild bee colonies out of fear, they contribute to environmental damage and can also be the cause of the disappearance of bees.

Renting bee colonies for crop pollination is the primary source of income for beekeepers in the U.S… Still, as bee fears spread, it becomes difficult to find a location for the colonies due to the growing objections of the local population.

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Apiphobia symptoms

The sight or thought of bees can trigger one or more of the following symptoms of phobia:

  • Short of breath
  • Fast or racing heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Thoughts of death or movie images of being stung in the mind of phobics
  • Loss of control, detachment from reality
  • Total panic or anxiety attack where the phobic tries to run or screams or cries
  • Fainting

Often the Apiphobia realizes that such thoughts are irrational. However, they cannot control them and continue to think about them, resulting in increased anxiety.

Africanized bees

Africanized bees

Rumors about “killer bees” have sparked widespread fear of bees. In particular, the Africanized bee is widely feared by the American public, a reaction that tabloid movies and some media reports have amplified.

  • Africanized bee stings kill one or two people a year in the United States, making them less dangerous than poisonous snakes. Unlike venomous snakes, they are found in only a tiny portion of the country.
  • As the bee spreads through heavily populated Florida, officials fear public fear could force misguided efforts to combat them.

The Florida African Bee Action Plan states:

  • News reports of massive itch attacks will promote concern and, in some cases, panic and anxiety and cause citizens to demand that responsible agencies and organizations take steps to help ensure their safety.
  • We anticipate increased pressure from the public to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas.
  • This action would be counterproductive. Beekeepers keeping managed colonies of domestic European bees are our best defense against an AHB saturated area.
  • These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that less desirable colonies would soon fill if it were vacant. «


  • Exposure therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for people afraid of bees.
  • It is recommended that people be placed in a comfortable and open environment, such as a park or garden, and gradually, over an extended period, get closer to the bees.
  • This process should not be rushed. They can spend many months observing bees before people feel comfortable in their presence.
  • Apiphobia is one of the most prevalent zoophobias in young children and can prevent them from participating in outdoor activities.
  • Older people control the natural fear of bees more easily. However, some adults have difficulty controlling their fear of bees.
  • A recommended way to overcome children’s fear of bees is fear training (a common approach to treating specific phobias ); programs vary.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.