Apiphobia, or the fear of bees, is arguably one of the most common specific animal phobias. Like all phobias, the fear of bees may have many different causes. Some people develop a phobia after being stung or watching someone else get stung, but prior exposure is not necessary for the fear to occur.
In most people, a bee sting is a mildly painful annoyance. Nonetheless, the experience can be frightening, especially for children. Bees often swarm, traveling together in tightly packed groups. Although it is relatively uncommon to be stung by more than one bee at once, it can certainly happen, especially if the hive is disturbed. Being attacked by numerous bees simultaneously may increase the risk for developing a phobia.
Some people are highly allergic to bee stings. In people with an allergy, a single sting could cause a dangerous reaction, and multiple stings could easily lead to death. By definition, a phobia is irrational. For those who are allergic to bee stings, however, the fear is perfectly rational. If you are allergic to bees, then a fear of them is not considered a phobia.
Bees take on the role of villain in numerous films, but the popular media may be to blame for some cases of apiphobia. So-called Africanized bees developed when specially bred African bees, believed to produce more honey, were accidentally released in the 1950s. The African bees mated with other species of wild bees, producing a strain of Africanized bees that are more aggressive than the relatively docile European bees.
As the Africanized bees continue to spread across the world, the media reports on their progress, often greatly exaggerating their aggressive tendencies. The term "killer bees" is often used to describe this strain, even though they are responsible for only one or two deaths in the United States each year.
Bees are exceptionally common, making it very difficult to avoid them. Fortunately, like all phobias, the fear of bees generally responds well to a variety of brief therapy options. Of course, if you are allergic to bee stings, it is important to work with your physician to develop an appropriate response to minimize your risks.Source:
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.