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Fear of bees (apiphobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

Fear of bees (apiphobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

May 5, 2024

Bee stings can be painful and unpleasant, and no one likes to receive a . However, some people develop an irrational fear of these insects, which causes them a tremendous discomfort and anxiety about their presence.

The simple sound of a buzzing can cause a state of panic and fear so intense that the person wants to leave the place immediately fruit of irrational thoughts. This extreme and unreal fear is known as apiphobia, and in this article we will delve into its symptoms, causes and consequences.

What is apiphobia?

The word apiphobia comes from the Latin, for "apis" which means bees; and from the Greek, "phobos" is translated as fear. This phobia is also known as melisophobia, since bee in Greek is "melissa".

Apifobia is a phobic disorder and, therefore, an anxiety disorder . Its main symptom is extreme fear, discomfort and anxiety, which cause the person to try to avoid bees at all costs. This phobia is usually related to the fear of other flying insects such as wasps or hornets.

Many people have been bitten by these insects or have family or friends who have suffered bites in their own flesh. But the bite of these insects, which can be painful, does not pose a risk to health, except that the person who suffers the sting is allergic or receives multiple simultaneous bites.

Apiphobia does not necessarily pose a serious problem for the person, especially in those cases in which there is hardly any contact with bees or wasps. But nevertheless, it is necessary to go to a specialist in cases where these symptoms persist and affect the life of the subject . For example, it can be a serious problem for those who live near a forest or their neighbor owns a bee hive. In such circumstances, his apiphobia needs treatment.


Like the rest of phobias, this condition is usually directly associated with a previous incidence with bees. In other words, a traumatic event. The most frequent cause is being bitten by bees, which can provoke the learning of irrational fear by classical conditioning, a type of associative learning that we explain in our article: "Classical conditioning and its most important experiments"

This phobia usually develops in childhood, although it can also occur at any age.

Now, there are other possible causes that have nothing to do with having been stung by a bee or wasp . For example, when someone from our environment has been stung. When this happens, apiphobia can be acquired by vicarious conditioning. Also, since we are small, we are taught to be afraid and to be away from bees, this extreme behavior can lead some people to develop irrational beliefs about these insects. Television and movies also influence when developing these beliefs.

Some experts also say that we are biologically predisposed to suffer phobias, because this emotion has served the human species to survive for centuries. This has caused that phobias do not respond to logical arguments, but they are primitive and non-cognitive associations.

Symptoms and signs

The symptoms are common in the different types of phobia, what varies is the stimulus that causes it. These symptoms can be cognitive, behavioral and physical. They stand out from them:

  • Extreme and irrational fear towards bees (even when they are not present). Even a thought, an image or talk about bees can trigger fear
  • Anxiety, anguish and general malaise.
  • Thoughts of death
  • Complete avoidance of places where you can find bees and bee hives are found. For example, forests or caves.
  • Lack of concentration
  • Confusion
  • Panic attacks accompanied by signs such as sweating, tremors, fast heartbeat, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, difficulty breathing, abdominal discomfort.

Treatment and therapy

In many studies it has been shown that psychological therapy works especially well to treat phobias. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to modify those thoughts or behaviors that cause discomfort to the patient.

Most of the time, fear of bees is related to irrational beliefs, so trying to replace this negative image of bees can help. But nevertheless, relaxation and exposure techniques are the treatment par excellence in the case of phobias .

Exposure therapy is characterized by frequent sessions in which the person faces the dreaded stimulus progressively.Also, psychologists also teach different forms of relaxation such as exercises for the release of muscle tension, mental visualizations and breathing control. The psychologist can also teach the patient relaxation techniques so that they can use them simultaneously during exposure. It is what is known as systematic desensitization technique.

In severe cases of anxiety, anxiolytics and antidepressants can be used to control a person's feelings of fear. However, they should never be administered without medical supervision and without being part of a treatment that includes psychotherapy.

Other therapeutic methods such as Mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy have been shown to be effective in treating phobias.

New technologies applied to the treatment of phobias

New technologies have allowed patients to be exposed to the phobic stimulus without it being present. This is possible thanks to virtual reality and augmented reality. Studies show that these types of techniques are very effective. Currently, mobile applications have even been developed to treat phobias.

  • We tell you in our article: "8 apps to treat phobias and fears from your smartphone"

TOP 10 PHOBIAS - What Are You Afraid Of? (May 2024).

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