We’ve all seen Apiphobics at sidewalk cafes, knocking over wine glasses as they frantically wave their arms and shriek because a bee has flown close.
If that’s the extent of your phobia, thanks for entertaining the rest of us. But be warned: fear feeds upon itself and your phobia may worsen if you don’t nip it in the stamen. Some Apiphobics grow so fearful that they won’t do picnics or hikes, and they stay indoors on even the nicest days, double-checking their screens.
Don’t stay inside cuddling up with your anxieties! One of the best ways to conquer fear is to put aside your big fragile ego — and that’s easier to do outside in the big beautiful world. Think calm thoughts. Take deep breaths. Get so involved in an outdoor activity that your mind is too busy to entertain anxiety. So long as you don’t step on a hive, you will soon realize that bees don’t want to hurt you. You are completely irrelevant to them.
I used to be afraid of bees but I conquered my fear when I had kids because I didn’t want them to (a) be afraid of bees; or (b) witness their mother freaking out in public. I suffered through the company of bees at the picnic table, pretending not to be upset. And eventually – after many afternoons in which the bees ignored me – I calmed down. And now I like bees, especially bumblebees.
FYI, threatened bees (i.e., the individual ones you’re swatting at, not all bees threatened by pesticides) emit an alarmist pheromone, a chemical communication that tells other bees an enemy is near — but they’ll only attack you if you’re moving. If you stay still, even if you’re surrounded by that pheromone, the bees won’t sting you. Movement – the running away screaming kind of movement that apiphobics do all the time – is what tells a bee that you need stinging. Kind of like running away tells a predator that you’re prey.
So stop freaking out. Be still. Think calm thoughts. They will leave you alone and go about their bee business – and you can enjoy a day in the garden. (Of course, if you’re allergic to bee venom, a sting can be deadly, and that’s pretty scary – but that’s all the more reason not to panic and flail about and get stung. Calm thoughts.)
If you’re afraid of bees, or anything else, leave a comment on this blog during Fearless February and you might win a copy of the middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, coming out in March with Lorimer.
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A great post for apiphiliacs (or recovered apiphobics).
Even though I’ve yet to be stung (that one time I accidentally rested my arm on a bee’s behind doesn’t count, since that was my bad), I get plenty nervous around bees. It doesn’t help that it can be difficult to tell at a glance whether it’s the “live and let live” kind of a bee or a “just sting you to be evil” lookalike.
Yes, there are some bad-tempered stingers out there. Bumblebees are my favourites – they don’t sting you unless you really bother them or pick them up (which I did as a child to save it from drowning – thankless bee).