I’ll Bee Damned

I would say a good indicator on whether or not you are a friend of mine or a GOOD friend of mine is whether or not you know about my rather irrational fear of bees.

I think it began when I was about 14 and sleeping on the couch one summer night in my living room, because the living room had a ceiling fan and my bedroom didn’t. I was half asleep when I had one of those little, impossible to reach itches in the middle of my back. I rolled my shoulder blades together, and as it turns out the little itch of a bee was nestling down for the night and didn’t like my motions…

However, it could go further back to when I was a baby and got stung on the forehead. I really don’t remember that much though… so who’s to say.
Regardless, fear. Panic soaked in sweat, drenched in adrenaline, steeped in fear. That’s what confronts me when forced to share space with the flashily dressed stingmongers. I can focus on nothing else. I could be in a gym or a closet (gym preferred) with a bee and my attention to it supercedes even the most rudimentary functions of my central nervous system.

So, that said. Don’t I learn today that Asia, and particularly mountainous regions of North Eastern Asia, are home to the world’s largest hornet. How big is it you ask? This big:

It’s just wrong. Gaak! It freaks me out just looking at it, but like it’s in the same room with me, I can do nothing but stare at it. I’m powerless. There’s an excessive amount of [backspace] use on this post because my hands are twitching.

Here are some of the heighlights of what this little bee-otch is all about (from FreeDictionary.com).

  • The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about a quarter-inch (6 mm) in length, and injects an especially potent venom that contains an enzyme so strong that it can dissolve human tissue.
  • Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation [of being stung] as feeling “like a hot nail through my leg.
  • Like all hornets, V. mandarinia [fancy for Big F’in’ Bee] can sting repeatedly, and do so when they prey on bees and other insects [and presumably would with me too].
  • If a person is stung by the giant hornet and does not receive prompt medical treatment, he or she may die from a reaction to the venom. About 40 people die each year after being stung by giant hornets, mainly as a result of an allergic reaction to the venom.
  • The hornets can devastate a colony of honeybees: a single hornet can kill as many as 40 honeybees per minute; it takes only a few of these hornets a few hours to exterminate the population of a 30,000-member honeybee hive, leaving a trail of severed insect heads and limbs.
  • In Japan’s mountain villages, the hornets are valued as part of the basic diet. They are eaten deep fried or as a kind of hornet sashimi.

So yeah, I’m REAL comfortable about all the loose-fit screens in my apartment. No matter what I do, I’m going to ignore those late-night back itches.

22 Responses

  1. oh my hell………that’s just too scary. I also have a bee phobia. And just when I got somewhat comfortable with the bee’s, now big brother is warning us about the killler bee’s. But that Asian giant hornet is the stuff of horror movie nightmares. Scary.

    I have complete irrational fear of snakes. Hand shaking, break into a sweat fear of snakes, nigh unto your fear of bee’s. Oy!

    Get some duct tape and seal up those screens! Oh man….scary!




  2. Hi Ryan,

    This might help!

    Three guys sitting talking at a bee-keepers conference. One says “I have twelve thousand bees and keep them in 17 hives”. The other says ” Yea well I have 25000 bees in 40 hives. The third says ” Actually I have 100,000 bees in biscuit tin”. The other two look at him aghast. ” Surely they will suffocate” one of them says. Smiling the third guy replies “f*&# ’em they’re only bees”!

    Slán go fóil.


  3. Ryan, I’ve never seen one since I’ve been here. I don’t think they live in the city, but who knows? I swear I saw a Tarantula walking down Shengli Road one evening!

  4. Eek… spiders are also big on my list of things not to get cuddly with (no matter how soft and furry they may be).

    But yeah, if they are into devouring thousands upon thousands of bees, the city isn’t the place to get their kicks… I’m keeping my fingers crossed. You living in the countryside though… I dunno… think your cats could take ’em out?

  5. One summer we left the door open, and found a tarantula in the living room. Ugh! It wasn’t so bad, but I will tell you I steered clear and let my next door neighbor pick it up and take it home with her. Yah, she TOOK IT HOME!

    Okay….been thinking about that damn bee all day. Thanks for that mental image! 😉

    It’s the snakes. Ugh. Hate them! Had one in the back yard many moons ago. I ran inside the house sooooo fast. And secured the deadbolt. Cause you never know when that snake will use that tongue to pick the lock and chase you down!

    Here’s to irrational fears! Wooo hoo!


  6. Hi Ryan,

    dui bu qi, Alan Davies, wo bu dong! i lived in Australia a few years back and once found a wolf spider on the back door. I picked up a stool from the kitchen to kill it but then my Buddhist leanings got the upper hand and I ran away.


  7. @Jimmy: Sorry… I thought it was his joke. The bee joke that is. But maybe he just repeated it. I heard the Dalai Lama used that same Buddhist tactic once. 😉 Just kidding. Gawd, I’ve pissed off the Chinese and the Islamics on this site… I guess the best I could do is piss off the Buddhists.. I mean what are they going to do… shout, “you’ll get yours! oh, you’ll get yours!” 😉

    @db: Where the hell do you live that you have tarantulas trying to watch your Must See TV? And I have heard that snakes are unnaturally cunning… so… keep the chain on as well.

  8. I am so glad to find others with the same fears as me. My husband is angry at me cause our 4 children have now noticed my reaction when ANY stinging insect is around and now they are just as scared as I. I crawled into bed one night 12 years ago and as soon as I covered with the blanket, I felt this hot needle poking sensation in my leg. I hit it hard with my fist to kill whatever it was causing that immense pain and refused to sleep in that bed. I slept on the couch. The next day I had a football sized welt on my leg. I went into the rooma nd pulled down the covers and there was a regular bee and since that time, I have HATED the mere sight of any flying insect. This past August I was at the zoo with my mother in law and my children. We were walking around looking at the animals and my youngest son tripped and fell into a puddle. My oldest son then tried to help him out but when he reached down, he got stung and yelled and ran away from the puddle. % minutes later we walked to the amphibian building and since you can’t take strollers in, my MIL was trying to get my son out of the stroller. I was standing beside her at first when I suddenly realized the stoller 5 feet in front of us was surrounded by at least 20-30 bees. I backed up thinking to myself, “how am I going to get into that building without walking past those bees?” My MIL slapped at a couple that were flying around my son and one of the ones she slapped at came back and stung my neck. THAT”S the stuff of nightmares. Not only was the bee close to me, it was on me and stung. I freaked out. I thought I was allergic because of ny previous sting and the size of the swelling, so my MIL got my EPI_PEN out and it was defective. I ended up in the hospital. Turns out I’m not technically allergic, but if I get stung I will sweel up a lot in the area I am stung. Because this one was my neck, My esophagus swelled to the point where I was having trouble breathing. This happened 3 weeks ago now and there’s still a mark whereas my son’s sting has healed and there’s no sign of it. The picture up there is awful. I think I’d literally have a heartattack if I encountered one of those.

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  10. If you’re scared of those hornets, you should keep Japanese Honey Bees around.

    “When a hornet scout locates a Japanese honey bee hive and approaches the nest, the scout will emit specific pheromonal hunting signals. When the honey bees detect these pheromones, a hundred or so will gather near the entrance of the nest and keep it open, apparently to draw the hornet further into the hive or allow it to enter on its own. As the hornet enters the nest, a large mob of about five hundred honey bees surround the hornet, completely covering it and preventing it from moving, and begin quickly vibrating their flight muscles. This has the effect of raising the temperature of the honey bee mass to 47 °C (117 °F). Though the honey bees can tolerate such a temperature, it is fatal to the intruder, which can handle a maximum temperature of about 45 °C (113 °F), and is effectively baked to death by the large mass of vibrating bees. Often several bees perish along with the intruder in this way, having sacrificed themselves for the survival of the colony.”

  11. Yeah, umm… lesser of two evils? Perhaps ya missed the first “irrational fear of bees” bit… find me a cat or pack of turtles that can swarm and over-heat these things and I’m in.

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  13. My apologize’s I didnt think i could get a saying in this there is usually a catch. I have killed four(Japanese Killer Yellowjackets) of these oversized “yellowjackets” I have all of them in a jar, I tried to kill the fifth one an i missed an the “scout” flew away an hasn’t been back as far as I know, I can hear them buzzing outside from inside my house I have Great appreciation for them, But not if they think they are gonna nest inside my house. I jsut recently moved to Tennessee an I have noticed their attempts to nest. Email me at [email protected]. I’ve killed four of them in the past two nights. An the next night they sent a scout I assume, an I missed Her/him an it hasn’t ben back that I know of but I am worried I have dogs an A mother I am helping out… An I swear I will take all of them out single handly if they harm my family in some way, but I love nature an I dont wana jsut simply aggrese upon them Curious if anyone has an thoughts of making Peace. [email protected] Peas

  14. I was curious about this, found it when looking for the “killer hornet”.

    If what I have read from “experts” is correct, all the hornets you all are describing are European hornets. They aren’t as bad as the Japanese or Oriental hornets.

    So, you all can rest a little more easily. The ones in Japan are more aggressive than the yellow jackets or European hornets or common wasps.

    The European Hornets are supposedly less aggressive than wasps. So, if that is the case, you may be pretty safe.

    Just don’t go petting one.

    Also, on the bit about the tarantula in the house – I think 2 different people said that. Unless you live in Africa or Asia, I doubt it was an actual tarantula (unless it was a pet).

    Some wolf spiders can get pretty big and scary looking. I’ve seen a few that looked like tarantulas in the southeast USA.

    Though, my grandfather swore that in some part of Texas or some southern state (way back when he was in the army), there were lots of tarantulas that would get run over and make a mess on your car. I forget exactly where he was at the time – some military base.

    So, maybe the last comment isn’t comforting. :0)

  15. Oh, on my last post, okay, maybe some of you did see the Oriental hornet – if the guy who makes the site is in China, according to the header – I didn’t notice that part.

    But if you are in North America, or UK or other parts of Europe (other than southern France according to one “expert”), then you should be safe from the “Giant Hornet”.

  16. Yeah, “the guy” is. Though now he’s out of the North East of China – and less at risk of running into these monsters.

    Incidentally, there are more than 800 species of tarantula – many of which (including most of the hairy ones and also the largest one – Goliath Tarantula/Theraposa leblondi) live in the Americas (particularly Central and South America).

  17. OH DEAR.
    I really wanted to go to Asia and stuff…but now I’m not so sure….that thing looks menacing. Uhh. Any way to get rid of that thing?

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