June 27, 2002


Pasadena has a lot of killer bees. I see signs like this one (near the entrance to my parking garage at work) all the time. Last week a big swarm was removed from a palm tree in a quiet residential neighborhood, and a few months ago students were trapped in a high school while public health officials removed a swarm that had landed on campus.

I have a bee phobia. Which puts my social insect score at Ants: fascination, Bees: irrational fear. Normal bees freak me out with their determination--they often want me or my food, and they don't give up easily. It's not the pain of stinging that scares me, it is their alien single-mindedness along with their irascibility (it doesn't help that it's backed by the threat of a painful sting). I've been stung lots of times, and it's not that bad. I just don't like the way they act (pretty clearly makes it a phobia, eh?)

The thing is that there are not a lot of normal bees here. Africanized bees started taking over southern california in 1999, and now 60% of the bees in this area are africanized. Yes, most bees here are killer bees. And they take determination to a new level. If you run, they will chase you for up to several hundred yards. And you should not jump in water if chased, because they will wait for you to surface.

I saw on the Discovery Channel that Los Angeles county has a special vector control department to handle killer bees. They'll come out in their truck and wearing their bee suits and destroy a hive, or remove one by wrapping it in a plastic bag and freezing it until the bees are dead, after which an exact analysis of the hive can be done by measuring wing sizes (africanized bees have slightly smaller wings) or doing DNA analysis.

So anyway, if I ever stop posting for more than two weeks, just assume the bees got me.

Posted by jjwiseman at June 27, 2002 12:23 AM

"africanized"..means bad? Sounds a little Eurocentric to me. As per usual, google offered me some insight: http://www.google.com/search?q=africanized+bees

As a midwesterner, I'd never heard of this phenomena. (seriously, I remember in 1976 hearing about the killer bee scare. Some made-for-tv movie came out that year)..The Chicago Tribune recently ran an article on the greatness of beekeeping in the city (those flat roofs are ideal, so they said) and their positive impact on the city's flora.

Posted by: bill milbratz on June 27, 2002 09:53 PM

You need to watch more Discovery Channel.

I do find it pretty shocking that after only 3 years in this area (not counting a close call in 1994 in which a hive on an incoming ship was destroyed) killer bees have gained so much ground. Apparently hives can be partially taken over by Africanized bees in some way, too. I don't know the details, but it seems that the vector control people check to see what proportion of a hive is African vs. European.

I didn't even get into the attack stories. When people and pets are attacked, it's pretty horrific. The bees attack so fiercely that a fatal number of stings can be delivered rather quickly. Even if they don't kill you they can really mess you up.

Posted by: jjwiseman on June 28, 2002 11:50 AM

I grew up in South Africa. Whenever we had for example, a school sporting event, thousands of honey bees would decent, attracted by the suger in our soft drinks and sodas (Coke, Fanta etc.)

Masses of bees would fly around and crawl into trashcans, sometimes no more than a a couple of metres from spectators. These bees were foraging for food, no-one ventured near their hives. And as far as I can remember, no one was ever stung. Perhaps these hybrid bees are more agressive than the pure African honey bee ?

I remember always having to peer into my Coke can before I drank, just to make sure a bee hadn't made its was inside. Whatever you do: Don't swat at a bee. Bees are not flies.

Posted by: Hairy Troll on June 29, 2002 09:04 AM

I have a terribe phobia of bees and wasps....... Its makes my life and those around me very difficult! I would love to get over it, but have trouble even watching them (and listening, lets not forget that awful sound!!)on documentaries.

Here in the UK we at least do not have the killer bee problem, which i witnessed in Las Vegas some years ago, infact its being reported that the Euro bee is on a steep decline. I am saddened by this as we rely on bees for seeding and planting, not forgetting honey, but i was kind of happy when i heard it. If only it were the wasps in decline though.

Posted by: Bonnie on May 9, 2003 05:46 AM

wow i thought i was the only one who was deathly afraid of bees man. I swear when it's summer i do not want to go out in the day time because when I do I always hear a bee fly overhead and then i panic and I fell trapped but I usually do run. Im afraid to get stung and also the way they think. One time my car was parked under the tree and I went to go get breakfast. I wasnt that worried because it was 6 in the morning, well what do you know? I got in my car and I already started to panic because it was under that darn tree. So i kept looking around my car to see if a bee was inside and I swear I sat there for at least 20 minutes scanning the car. And then as I began to start the car a freaking bee just rolls down in front of my windshield (outside the car thank god) and it landed on my windshield wiper with its stinger facing me.And then it turned slowly towards me and was just staring at me. i knew he was waiting for me to get out the car. So i drove off and I was speeding to get him off my windshield and he was hanging on to his dear life with one leg!! I had to laugh man, and i moved the wiper and he was still there...so i moved it faster and it disappeared but of course i was paranoid then on. It just seems like bees are just after me and i hate this feeling

Posted by: Alanna on December 4, 2003 02:22 AM

eat hte bees they taste good boil em' cook em' put em' in a stew

Posted by: bee eater on June 15, 2004 02:02 AM


I'm a hobby beekeeper :-) and I stumbled over your site. Yes, it's the hybrid forms (african and european bees) that become thus aggressive. The original bees are much more peaceful, although even they can bee fearful enough sometimes, especially shortly before bad weather, thunderstorm etc.

Anyway, I am also frightened of stings, kind of, but usually (not always) I handle my bees w/o sting protection... All protective gear makes it harder to handle bees, frames and boxes carefully, esp. gloves, because you lose the sensibility.

Wanna get rid of your phobia? Visit me and I'll carefully introduce you to the bees and them to you ;-)

Keep up the good work!

Best wishes from Germany,


Posted by: Thomas Rohde on July 24, 2004 04:50 PM

I have a terrible phobia of bees, yet, I am attracted to them. I LOVE to study bees, yet I am deathly afraid of them! Well, here's my story. I was up at my vacation spot in Lighthouse Village trailer park, Michigan. I began walking around the shuffleboard court because it's right next ot the public pool, so I sat on the swivel bench and began writign on the scoreboard with some chalk. All of a sudden I hear this buzzing noise, and i'm like, "hmm, I wonder what that is." And I must say, I screamed and cried until I reached my trailer, with 3 big lumps on my arm. Turns out, there was a hornets nest INSIDE the bench that I had disturbed. luckily, i had gotten away with only 3 stings, (which might I add, were not all that painful! wierd!) and We fixed a remedy to put on it. Since then, I am STILL deathly afraid, yet intrigued by them.

Posted by: Alaina on April 8, 2005 05:32 PM

Wow!!!!!! I thought I was the only one here with a bee phobia. We have hives in our yard, and just last week, I was stung by a yellow jacket!!!!!! I never even did anything to hurt him or anything! I need help!!!! Can anyone suggest what to do to help me? I have 2 little kids, and I dread going out!!!!!

Posted by: Laura on September 6, 2005 10:39 PM

I was looking for some advice on how to over come my fear of bees and stumbled on this web site and thought I would share my feelings. It is not the sting, I have been stung and can take that amount of pain many times over. Have you ever looked at a bee up close? They look scary as hell. They also seek you out. If you happen to piss them off and it is pretty easy to do then they follow you and attack. That in itself is scary! I live in North Pole Alaska and we dont have to deal with them for nine months out of the year, thank God. But come summer, they come by the thousands and are everywhere. I sit inside and watch them swarm out side my house. Its a shame that I would spend any time inside during the summer after being inside for nine months because of the cold. I am going to find a way to beat this and when I do, I will post my solution on this web site.

Posted by: Rhonda on May 29, 2006 10:35 PM

Just ordered this book: "Curing Anxiety, Phobias, Shyness and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders" from Amazon.com. I hope it helps. You can get more info & order more stuff on this site: http://www.angelnet.com/fear.html

For $20 the book is worth ordering and reading.

Posted by: C.J. on January 28, 2007 11:46 AM
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