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Apiphobia (from Latin apis for "honeybee") or melissophobia (from Greek melissa for "honeybee") is an animal phobia, an abnormal fear of bees. Fear of bees or bee stings is one of common fears among people.[citation needed]

Cause and effects[]

Most people have been stung by a bee or had friends or family members stung. A child may fall victim by treading on a bee while playing outside. The sting is quite painful and results in swelling which stays for several days, so the development of some fear of bees is quite natural.

An excessive fear of bees in adults is generally associated with lack of knowledge. The general public is not aware that bees attack in defense of their hive, or when accidentally squashed, and an occasional bee in a field presents no danger. [1] Moreover, the majority of insect stings in the United States are attributed to yellowjacket wasps, which are often mistaken for a honeybee.[2]

Unreasonable fear of bees in humans may also have a detrimental effect on ecology. Bees are important pollinators, and when in their fear people destroy wild colonies of bees, they contribute to environmental damage. [3] What is more, many bee farms are actually rented for pollination of crops[4], and as the fears of bees spread, it becomes hard to find a location for the colony because of the growing objections of local population.

Killer bees[]

A widespread fear of bees was triggered by rumors about "killer bees". In particular, the Africanized bee is widely feared by the American public, a reaction that has been amplified by sensationalist movies and some of the media reports. Since their introduction to the United States there have been 14 deaths from Africanized bees over the several year period, which makes them less hazardous than venomous snakes. As the bee spreads through Florida, a densely populated state, officials worry that public fear may force misguided efforts to combat them. The Florida African Bee Action Plan states, "News reports of mass stinging attacks will promote concern and in some cases panic and anxiety, and cause citizens to demand responsible agencies and organizations to take action to help insure their safety. We anticipate increased pressure from the public to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas. This action would be counter-productive. Beekeepers maintaining managed colonies of domestic European bees are our best defense against an area becoming saturated with AHB. These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that would soon be occupied by less desirable colonies if it were vacant. " [5]


Apiphobia is one of zoophobias prevalent in young children and may prevent them from taking part in any outdoor activities. Older people control the natural fear of bees more easily.


A recommended way of overcoming adult or a child's apiphobia is to train them to face their fears dby systematic desensitization (a common approach for treating specific phobias).[6] Programs vary.

See also[]


  1. "Where are the Bees?" a transcript from Impact Television, a weekly TV series by University of Florida
  2. Bee or Yellow Jacket Stings, a hospital advise
  3. "The Birds, the Bees, and the Flying Foxes: Pollinators in Jeopardy"
  4. "The progress of Africanized Bees in the United States (1990-1995)" and online version of an article from California Agriculture, 51:22-25
  5. Florida African Bee Action Plan, by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  6. Fighting children's fears, fast, from Monitor on Psychology, Volume 36, No. 7, 2005, by American Psychological Association


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