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How do I Overcome a Fear of Bees?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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If you have a fear of bees, you may find it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities. Luckily, with a bit of knowledge, patience, and determination, this fear can usually be overcome. The first step in overcoming your fear of bees is learning about what motivates these insects to sting. Next, you should modify your behavior, avoiding scents that attract bees and remaining calm while in their presence. While exposing yourself to bees may be scary at first, with time you will likely find that your fears have begun to subside.

Feeling a small amount of fear or discomfort in the presence of bees is fairly normal, particularly if you have experienced a painful sting in the past. If you understand what drives bees to sting, however, it is likely that you will feel less threatened by these insects. It is important to know that bees generally sting humans only when they are provoked. In some cases, this provocation may be totally inadvertent, such as when you accidentally step on an unseen bee. More often, though, bees sting in response to humans’ defensive behaviors, such as swatting. Thus, while swatting at an approaching bee may be instinctive, you should understand that bees can be frightened by these sudden, violent movements, and may sting in response.

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Also important in overcoming your fear of bees is understanding what attracts them to humans. Bees are programmed to investigate sweet smells, which they associate with their food source, plant nectar. Certain scents, shampoos, and other beauty products may contain sweet-smelling perfumes that bees can mistake for nectar. The sweet smell of common picnic items such as fruit salad can also draw bees in search of food.

Now that you know a bit more about what attracts these insects and why they sometimes sting, you can face your fear of bees by attending an outdoor event such as a barbecue or baseball game. To prepare for this event, reduce your chances of attracting bees by avoiding sweet-smelling beauty products. If sweet foods are being served at the event, keep them covered in an airtight container if possible, and move dishware that is no longer in use away from the seating area.

Perhaps the most important step in facing your fear of bees is learning to restrain panicked behavior. If you are approached by a bee, remember it will almost never sting unless it is frightened by sudden movements. Rather than swatting at the bee, remain still. In almost every case, the bee will quickly realize that you are not a source of food and will continue on its way. While this final stage may be quite scary at first, with time you will likely find that you are becoming less frightened by bees, and eventually your fear may vanish.

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