The longer you avoid something because you’re scared of it, the scarier it becomes.
Pete took me to a Bee Keeping class for my birthday. He knows I like new and unique experiences, so visiting a bee keeper’s home in LA fit the bill.
The Beekeeper’s name was Marvin. The first thing he said was that bees can be extremely dangerous, and they kill more people than surfing and hang gliding in the US each year. Then he presented us with a waiver that basically said it’s not his responsibility if we get stung to death.
Me: “Aren’t we wearing suits?,”
Marvin: “Yeah, but I can’t control thousands of bees.”
Marvin taught us the history of bees (they are documented back to Egyptian times) and how their societies work. He then took us through breathing exercises so that we would remain calm.
“They can sense fear.”
I was actually more scared to do this than skydive or any of the thrill activities I’ve ever done. I’ve been stung before and that shit hurts, not to mention I have Trypophobia and looking at honeycombs with thousands of insects all over it makes my skin crawl.
Marvin taught us how to be aware of our surroundings and how to know if a bee is telling us to back off. He opened the box and the bees came out. Some buzzed around. They were checking us out.
We observed how they work. I haven’t observed an animal like this since 5th grade. I forgot how fun it is. Feeling curiosity and wonderment is the same area of the brain that produces joy. Reminder to self: this is why kids are so happy.
After staring at the honeycombs for a few minutes, it didn’t gross me out anymore. I watched these amazing creatures talk to one another. I saw one do a dance to tell others where there was food. I watched others fan the hive to keep it cool. Others went out to collect pollen.
Efficient, intelligent, little workers – I like these guys!
Marvin saw how Pete and I were observing.
“Do you want to feed them with your hand?”
At first it was a hard no for me. Crawling on me? No thanks.
Then I remembered to do things that scare me. For 20 minutes I watched how gentle they were. Contrary to what I believed, I could tell they weren’t out to get me. Bees only sting if they feel truly threatened, and I wasn’t doing anything to make them feel that way.
I dipped my finger in honey and held it out.
Some animals are sloppy and aggressively eat things without mindfulness. Bees are the opposite. They are mindful, like prim and proper ladies having tea.
In an hour I got over my fear of bees.
Before this experience, if a bee got remotely close to me I would have reacted. Now I would stay calm. All it took was listening, being educated, staying mindful, and giving something a chance before pushing my own story onto it.