Terrified of bees, should I fight my fears?

Hello, I’m interested in bee keeping (save the bees, free pollination, free honey) but terrified of them.

Part of it is I’ve never been stung, and part of it is my family has a history of developing allergies to bees. My dad is allergic, my cousin is horribly allergic to everything, and I tend to develop allergies easily. My bro is even more terrified, for him its an intense phobia.

I’m told the flow-style honey collection requires less riling of the bees and might be a good choice, should I face my fears and embrace the bees, or recognize my limits and maybe stick to mason bees?

Hi @LunarFantom, bees aren’t for everyone. Yes, with this setup it is easy to keep bees but you will need to go into the brood box regularly to ensure their health and well being and Yes at some point you will get stung and Yes, it hurts a lot. My advice is to go along to your local beekeeping club ad see what’s involved. You do not need to keep bees to do something to help them. If you have a garden then plant bee friendly plants, get involved in a community garden, build and put up bee hotels for solitary bees like the mason bee. The last thing you want to do is to buy all the equipment, get your bees and then make them sick or leave cause you can’t care for them. Your local bee club will have regular events and information nights, you can always request to help a member when inspecting and harvesting, guaranteed to get you some free honey too.


I agree with @Rodderick.

You definitely need to check on the bees from time to time by going into the brood box. People are finding that it’s best to inspect the flow frames before harvest. That IS disruptive to the bees.

Forget about “free honey”. What price do you put on your labor plus whatever number of stings you’re likely to encounter before your first harvest.

If money is no object, you could engage the services of a local experienced beekeeper to manage your hive so that all you do is tap the honey.


what Jeff and Rodderick said is completely true. Bee stings do hurt… but the pain is soon forgotten! And if you have a good bee suit- the amount of stings can be massively reduced. Concerning allergies: are you 100% sure your family are prone to a true allergic reaction? I only ask because a lot of people think they are allergic because it hurt like hell and their hand swelled up to twice it’s normal size when they got stung on a finger… However this is not an allergic reaction: it’s just what bee venom does. You are allergic if you get stung on the hand- and your head swells up!

When I tell people I keep bees so many say to me they are allergic- yet true bee allergy reaction is relatively rare- and they can’t all be truly allergic. It does sound like in your case there is a good chance you are allergic - I wonder if you can get a test for that? Perhaps if you really are beekeeping is not for you.

Beekeeping is a great and productive thing to do- but it requires study, time, space, commitment and money.

I think a very good way to dip your foot into the water so to speak would be to get someone else to put a hive at your house and manage it for at least a year. They keep most of the honey- but you can watch and learn when they do their work. If after a year or two you are confident- you can arrange to buy the hive off them and go on by yourself. It won’t always be possible to find someone to do this but if you can it would be a great way to start out.


You have recieved really good advice. The only thing I would add with your family history and to give you piece of mind is to get your doctor to test you for bee allergy before you start anything.



Ah, I’ve had allergy testing before, you can’t get tested until you are exposed to the allergen. In this case we wouldn’t know if I was allergic to bees until I’d been stung at least once, and then they could do a test a week after that.

This is to say, I can’t be allergic to bees yet for I’ve never been stung, but the odds of me developing an allergy are quite high should I get stung.

So then your best bet is to do as above. Join a local bee club and do some classes with them until you overcome your fears, or get stung and decide it isn’t safe for you. I wouldn’t buy any equipment until you have done that. Even a Flow hive needs regular inspection = several times per month minimum.

Hope you decide to try it out. :blush:

I would be more inclined to get it sorted quickly. (yes I am usually impatient).
Arm some one who can use an epi pen, then go out and just get stung.
If you get a reaction (it will be very quick) get the epi pen jab…and you will know.

This method probably not recommended by doctors (DD ?) but you would have to admit quick.


That doesn’t always work @busso! We just went through a double deep hive today, which had a new queen about 2 weeks ago (old queen was failing by her laying pattern). I have long hair, and if I don’t wear a veil, I often get stung from bees getting caught - they panic, I panic, and everybody suffers, except they die and I don’t… :blush:

Anyhow, we finished the inspection, and did an Oxalic Acid vaporization (OAV) treatment at the end, because we have a lot of varroa at the moment. David started removing our inspection gear (empty brood box, smoker, jump starter for the OAV kit). I have plantar fasciitis and some muscle stiffness right now, so I was a bit slow to help him. However, while he was loading the car with our equipment, I cooled off the OAV crucible, then later removed the tea towels and replaced the entrance reducer. This was all with no protective gear on, and my face swells like a water melon if I get stung. I did not get stung even once. I was wanting to experiment with my


but I didn’t get the chance. :blush: I am sure I will in the future, and I was just being reckless today. However, there are non-traditional treatments for stings which work well even for extremely picky doctors, like me… :wink:


Hey Dawn, I put my bit of kit to the ultimate test over the weekend and had 5 stings on one hand a 3 on the other. I got a bad case of ‘hick-ups’ working in the brood and bumped a few frames that got them stirred up a touch.
The pens almost instantly killed the pain of the stings and I didn’t suffer any itching. I don’t wear gloves and it isn’t the first time I have used the pen, it has been worth every $ I paid for it.

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Thanks for that link, @Dawn_SD - I was looking at the Bite Away pen while reading the posts about it recently but got sidetracked & didn’t order it. Then I got stung during my inspection last Friday - right on my index fingertip :dizzy_face: (serves me right for still using the gloves with a hole there!) Took the stinger out quickly and tried the hot teaspoon on it. Results were amazing, but this isn’t the most accurate or nicest way to get them :fire::point_left::astonished: So now I’ve ordered the real thing!

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So true:
I’d say 75% of the people that visited my students 4-H beekeeping booth said they were allergic to honey bees.

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Our neighbors say they are “deathly allergic” to honey bees too. However, they have not registered this “allergy” with the city, so they are not classified as a ‘sensitive site’. I think they are just allergic to the idea of having bee hives in the vicinity. :wink:


Lol, developing allergies is just common for me. If I want to test it I’ll do it in the safety of my allergy clinic. : P

I guess I’ll just go for mason bees and try to ease my way into honeybees when the time and circumstances are right. Thanks for the input everyone!

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I feel your pain. I have a “world class allergy” to dust mites, according to my allergy doctor.

I also have Rosacea (a skin condition). The first thing I was prescribed was Rosac cream, which contains sulfonamide antibiotics. Within 2 years I was allergic to sulfonamides. Whole face swelled up and itched for 4 weeks, and that was just from smearing on the skin. The next thing they tried was Doxycyline (a tetracycline antibiotic) - now I am allergic to that too. Hives and wheezing within 12 hours. I am a very difficult patient. :blush:

Anyhow, I think your choice of mason bees is excellent. I wish you all the best. :heart_eyes:

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You won’t be disappointed Eva. I work without gloves so I have the extra sense of touch. There was a time when after a single bee sting anywhere on my hand meant it swelled like a football and just as useful for drinking a coffee. Now a once off press of the Bite Away and I am back at working in the hive. No more freaking out and trying to close up the hive one handed.

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Sounds good @Peter48 - the device arrived yesterday :+1: Weve had some fun with it already…two of my large children were hovering when I opened the package. My daughter tried it out on herself where she had several mosquito bites & promptly began chasing her brother around the room with it as he read the German instruction manual out loud amid screams :running_man:t2::zap:️:running_woman: