Fear of Bees

It’s a lifelong fear. If a therapist were to ask what is my level of discomfort when near a bee, I might have to say a hundred, or a gazillion- whatever the highest level might be.

It started when I was less then two, could have even been one and totally pre-verbal. But, I do remember being a witness to the moment. If not the exact moment, then the repurcussions. I was living with my mom and dad in this very glamorous place called the Garden of Allah. It was famous for housing the most intellectual, interesting avant -garde people of the day. People like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker and Greta Garbo. It was a hotel with bungalows that some people took permanent residence in. The social center was the pool. The pool where my mother got stung on her back as she swam in it. It’s sort of contradictory that what I love so much, pools….is where the danger often lies.

Bees. I have been known to stay under the water for unsafe periods of time when I see a bee flying overhead. I even switched my swimming time to night to avoid the stress.

As a child, very small child, after that experience, I would pray to God that I wouldn’t get stung for three more years. As each summer approached and I would become more aware of the bees, I would start the praying. There was a certain type of bush, ubiquitous throughout Beverly Hills and I would walk across streets or run by to avoid them because of the bees they would attract.

If I happen to spot one when swimming in my own pool, I just stay hypervigilant about where that one bee is. Watching it go from one flower coming out of my succulents to another flower. Never taking my eye off of that bee until I’m safe inside.

One time when I was or thought I was safe inside was in Connecticut while living with my friend Barbara. A big bee, maybe one of those extra scary black ones was inside our small guest house. It was dive- bombing and looking to do something bad to me, I was pretty sure. I was home alone and it was one of those hot steamy back east summers. I got under the quilt , a heavy winter one, head and all and wouldn’t come out. Not even to make a phone call for someone to save me. Sweating profusely, I heard a noise and it was the mailman and I screamed like I was being murdered so he came to my rescue.

Many times while I was with my friend Bettsie where she kept her horse, I would run for shelter in her car, a hatchback type VW. I would roll all the windows up and nearly die from heat exhaustion. Seriously, a few times, I nearly passed out and could easily have died. From fear.

One day in grammar school when I was swimming in my friend Susie’s pool , it was spring, the season of those big black bees that seemed to nose dive at you, and I was so terrified that I put this Styrofoam-boat- thing over my head in the pool and wouldn’t even open it a bit for some air. Finally I got the nerve to run for her back door and she locked it just as I approached and cackled sadistically from behind the door until her Greek grandmother who barely spoke English made her open it.

me in Susie Lohn's pool

One more quick scary one. When I lived on Old Malibu Road in the 70’s, suddenly there were a swarm of bees inside my apartment. I have no idea where they came from but I fled so fast to the next door neighbor. I didn’t even know this neighbor but he got some stick with a flame of fire at the end of it to make the bees go away. How did he even know what to do? I didn’t question it, because it seemed to work.

As a grown up with this fear, everyone is always reassuring me how much good those bees are doing. Yeah, yeah, I know. I still probably wouldn’t plant something in my yard that I knew would be very attractive to them.

There’s actually two words listed in the dictionary that describe the same thing, fear of bees. One is apiphobia and the other is melissophobia. Doesn’t that say something about how scary bees are?

There is a dish that I make all year long but most people just make it for Passover dinner. There are I’m sure several spellings of Haroset. It’s a chopped apple with walnut dish sweetened with honey by some. I usually make mine with just chopping apples, walnuts and then cinnamon. Most people use wine. I just sort of chop it on a chopping block and leave it right there on my counter, really ghetto, never even putting it in a bowl. If you drop by my house, you might find freshly made guacamole or Haroset. My kids and friends know to just grab a piece of matzo right out of the box and dip right in. When I was a kid this dish and the color of it, freaked me out and I never tried it. I missed out.

Proper recipe for Haroset
*6 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
* 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon white sugar (I’m not sure about the sugar, I wouldn’t)
* 3 1/2 teaspoons honey
* 1/3 cup sweet red wine


1. Place the apples and walnuts into a large bowl. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the apples. Stir in the honey and sweet wine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.


Susie, me

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7 Responses to “Fear of Bees”

  1. pauli moss says:

    I completely relate to this from the spider standpoint. Bees not so much – although my old boss, Michael Ritchie was deathly allergic.

  2. Caryn Speizer says:

    I’m a lurking fan, Fredde! The house of Allah was the motivation for Joni Mitchells’ song, Parking Lot!

  3. Another great story…everyone is afraid of something and if they tell you they aren’t they are lying! I’m not so fond of bees either, unless they are embossed on glassware or embroidered on a pillow.

  4. Kim says:

    It is crazy because I am allergic to bees and not that afraid. I am petrified of Heroset though.

  5. Barbara Dudley says:

    Oh Fredde, I do remember this well and love your memoirs more than you could imagine…I got the call at Aunt Kitty’s ( on Contentment Island) and you had me on the phone w/ the mailman…Terrifying to you and to me, the vision of you, the mailman, the quilt and the photo of the cow over the bed…What can I say…I love the humanness you have brought to my life…xoxoxo

  6. Don’t ever go to Catalina with me!! Too many bees and on my boat too many screaming, running for cover and jumping girls… You’d fit right in!! Yuck bees!!!

  7. Amy Arnaz says:

    Fredde~ A very amusing post. I love bees but do understand the impact that sting on you mother’s back made on you when you were a little girl. Bees and wasps love flitting around swimming pools for sure. Bees are a MUST for global pollination but keeping them out of your yard is probably next to impossible. Good luck!
    I ordered your book and right now it’s on a UPS truck somewhere winding it’s way to my door. Can’t wait. ~ Amy

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