Apiphobia Fear of Bees- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Bee stings can be really nasty if you get one. While it is perfectly normal for anyone to have an adrenaline rush whenever a bee comes humming around, many others might feel much more scared just by thinking about bees. Such extreme and irrational fear triggered by bees is known as apipobia.

apiphobia, fear of bees

It has been derived from Latin word “api” meaning bees. Apiphobia, also known as melissophobia, is closely related with fear of other flying and stingy insects like wasps, yellow jackets or hornets. Apiphobia is signified by unreasonable amount of fear for bees, and the panic can be onset even by a picture or talking about bees.

What Causes Apiphobia?

Major causes that might cause apiphobia are:

Related Distressful Incident

Apiphobia can be directly associated with a previous incidence with bees that was distressing and traumatic. Incidents such as encountering with a bee hive or getting stung by bees can cause a person to get apiphobic. It can also result from witnessing someone else or a loved one go through bee stings. Sometimes, intense TV and internet flicks associated with bees may also cause this fear to develop in people.

Learnt behavior

The fear of bees is also a learnt behavior. Since childhood, all of us are taught and warned to be away from bees or of getting bee stings. In some people, the learnt behavior can go over the extreme and cause apiphobia in people.

The Symptoms of Apiphobia

Common symptoms which indicate apiphobia in people (both children and adults) are:

  • Extreme and irrational fear of bees ( even when they’re not present)
  • Even a thought, picture or talking about bees can trigger the fear
  • Complete avoidance of places where bees and bee hives can be found such as forests or caves
  • Avoiding activities like hiking and camping due to the fear of seeing bees
  • Realizing that the fear is unreasonable ( except in children)
  • Panic attacks accompanied by signs such as sweating, trembling, racing heart beat, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, trouble in breathing, abdominal uneasiness and unable to think properly

When to Visit A Doctor?

Apiphobia may not be much of a problem if you do not need to encounter with these humming creatures every day. However, if you’re needed to and have been facing these symptoms for a prolonged time exceeding six months, then consulting with a doctor is necessary. Apiphobia can interrupt daily life if you have woods near your house, or your neighbor owns a bee hive. In such circumstances, your apiphobia needs treatment.

How Is Apiphobia Treated?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is aimed at finding out the thoughts and beliefs that one has towards bees. Most of the times, the fear of bees is related with negative perception and thinking about bees. The therapist has talking and sharing sessions with the person, and tries to replace negative images with positive ones. The therapist also gives positive facts and knowledge related with bees, and eliminates the fear of getting attacked or stung.

Exposure Therapy with Relaxation

Exposure therapy is signified by regular sessions where the person is confronted with toy bees or pictures, or other replicated setting involving bees. Through regular exposures and proper guidance from the therapist, the person will eventually develop tolerance for bees. The therapist also teaches different relaxation ways such as muscle releasing exercises, mind visualizations and breathing controls. The person simultaneously uses relaxation methods while facing the fearful subject during the exposure. Its major aim is to numb out the fear and anxiety.


In severe cases of anxiety for bees, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines can be used to control the fearful feelings in a person. These medicines help to adjust the brain chemicals such as Serotonin which is responsible for determining the temperament of a person.