One BumbleBee, Three Children and Me – A Lesson Learned

One Bumblebee, Three Children and Me – A Lesson Learned

by Mike O’Connor


Firstly, let me state that I’m TERRIFIED of Bees and Wasps. Whilst I recognize that this fear (phobia?) of mine is, to some degree, irrational, I’ve lived with it for forty odd years and gotten used to it. It is what it is, you know? Usually when one of these flying, weaponised insects comes anywhere close to my person, I will take evasive action and even happily run away at full speed. Being that I am a six-foot four beanpole of a human being, I have been told that my running at a sprint is a glorious sight to behold and one that family and friends have enjoyed witnessing many times. Yes, they do laugh out loud at me sometimes and, I guess, I can kind of laugh at myself too. I mean, I’m such a big guy and these Bees and Wasps are such tiny beasts.

Early one morning last week, whilst I was rushing to get ready for work and the kids were getting ready for school, I heard a familiar buzzzzzing sound. My heart clenched as a shot of adrenaline blasted through my veins and I spun round to see that a bumblebee, bless it,  had flown through the open window into the bedroom.  The poor thing was on the far side of the window from the opening, thus being trapped, and buzzing itself up and down the glass seeking a way out.

bee cartoon

Now this Bee was a small Bee. A very small Bee in fact. So small that I managed to restrain my urge to evacuate at speed and, well, just pause for a moment to observe the little creature. Whilst I stood there hoping (praying?) that the Bee would find its own way to freedom, all three of my gorgeous, animal-loving children came in, as one, to find out what daddy was doing. Upon seeing the Bee and I in the same room together, they immediately understood the gravity of the situation and arranged themselves on the bed to watch the forthcoming entertainment.

Please understand that willingly killing insects is not an option for our little family. So, when any of them invade our home territory, the wife will gently escort them outside. Over the years I have learned to manage some parts of my insect fear better and am proud to say that I can now use a cup and sheet of paper to remove spiders without too much panic. Go me. Moths I cannot go near (they fly in a weird way). How-about a Bee? Absolutely NO way. They fly, they make noise, they sting (inject venom) and people who are allergic have died from the stings for God’s sake. DIED. Being as I have never been stung, I could be one of these vulnerable-to-insect-venom-people. cute_cartoon_bumble_beeWith all that in my mind and an impressionable audience of children watching my every move, I shocked myself by deciding spur of the moment to try to help the Bee outside. I told the young’uns my plan and watched as their mouths slowly fell open…Daddy was actually going to deal with a Bee!

First off I needed the right tools. Whilst keeping one eye on the Bee, I grabbed a cup off the bedside cabinet (my side of the bed), a magazine off the floor (wife’s side of the bed) and slowly approached the Bee who was continuing to try to escape but not even getting close.

My eleven year-old son helpfully said: “Be really careful dad.”cute_cartoon_bumble_beeAs I got closer to the Bee, it ceased its frantic dance and sat down on the inside window ledge. I could see its rear-end moving up and down, almost flexing, and I wasn’t sure if this was some kind of Bee-Yoga to calm it or if it was simply stretching its stinging muscles in preparation for battle. As the Bee and I regarded one another from about ten inches distance, I felt a growing sense of compassion for it and a lessening in my fright. The poor little thing was trapped, alone, getting tired out and presumably just wanting to return to its home and family.

Over the course of the next few minutes I tried everything in my power to make the Bee stay in the cup long enough for me to get the magazine in place thus blocking the hole. Because I was a little shaky and the audience was giggling, the pressure started getting to me. It seemed that the Bee had sensed my inexperience early in the encounter and, rather than getting annoyed, it appeared to be enjoying this strange new game. I would trap it and then it would escape through the slowly opening gap just as I was getting it to the right part of the window. This happened many times. Eventually it sat down again and rear-end bumped for a bit whilst I contemplated my next move. After a while of this back-and-forward fun it had obviously grown bored and without any warning, it launched off the window ledge and flew straight at me.cute-cartoon-beeMy memory gets blurry from that point forward, but I’m pretty sure I let out a strangled scream of terror, turned and fled from the room, leaving the children to their fate. Witness reports after the event confirm that the Bee did not even bother giving chase. Once I ran it simply continued its attempts to be free and, finally, made it out of the window just as I was coming back into the room. We watched it fly away and the kids and I cheered. We had not killed the Bee. The Bee had not killed one of us. The little animal and I had shared a moment of time together and then gone our separate ways.

Now what’s the point of this overly long ramble about Bees and fear? Well…over the last few days I have thought about that tiny Bee a few times and wondered if it is back in the hive telling its siblings about the crazy humans it met and their bizarre games. The Bee that I feared, loathed and avoided for so long turned out to be a relatively gentle creature, simply going about its day and trying to do the best it could. It meant me no harm and it wanted no trouble. This insignificant incident has made me wonder how many times I have carried a negative mindset when I come across people that I, or society, do not approve of. How many fellow humans, vulnerable, sensitive people, just like you and I, have I met and feared, loathed or avoided without really making a serious effort to have an understanding of their life or to even give them a chance?cartoonbumblebeeclipartThe homeless, the addicted, the unemployed, the mentally ill and many other marginalized groups of people are regularly judged in a negative light by the media, society and ‘normal’ people. This group-dislike is damaging. Both to the judged and the judges. These people, deemed lesser, are then feared, loathed and avoided. Perhaps it can be skilful to try to keep a degree of mindfulness about the way we can shun those outside our approval and also to make appropriate efforts to move towards them, rather than away. We can pay attention to the way it really is, and how others, no matter their place, are simply trying to do the best they can with what they have in front of them. After all, isn’t that what every one of us is doing?

Mike O’Connor is a husband, father, IT worker and Kindness Blog’s creator. He’s based in the UK and continuing to work on his insect phobia.



  1. Thanks Mike, this was a really lovely read…I really appreciate you writing this on your blog. As someone who has a brother with mental health issues, I know what it is like to have him, and my parents judged based on how he presents at one time or another…there is so much more complexity to it than that and I very much appreciate when people are open to learn and see the human being behind the stigma. I really appreciate when people ask me about him, or still invite him to events, and especially when they ask (this one is rare) what they can do to help…or where can they learn more about how to help…People just understanding makes all the difference. Silence and distancing from people who are already so isolated themselves from their own condition and society only contributes more to worsening mental illness in particular. It really is a social illness. And it’s a shame, because to know him outside of his more “difficult” times…is to know someone who loves his nephews, works and holds down a full-time job, plays video games with them and like you say… does his best. And you’re right, we are all simply trying to do our best with what’s in front of us… 🙂 Thanks for the lovely post…have a fantastic day 🙂


    1. Hey Aveline,

      Thank you for the comment and sharing from your own experience. Much appreciated. Do you mind if I gently enquire into which condition your brother suffers from?



      1. Not at all, thanks for asking, Mike – it’s a long but likely not uncommon situation in that he has experienced periods of psychosis in his early mid-20s…at the time it was thought to be schizophrenia but given late onset, and the fact that he appears to no longer experience delusions and able to work, we think it is either schizoaffective disorder and/or bipolar disorder. One of the challenges of late diagnosis for families is the issue of compliance and of course, an individual’s right to make his own choices in medical care…he sort of flies under the radar in this area. Family advocacy, early diagnosis and community/family support makes a huge difference in how a family copes…I will probably write a post about this someday… 🙂


  2. Yes, lovely post. Just fyi, it’s highly unlikely that you would have an episode of anaphylactic shock the first time you get stung. If you have the kind of immune system that does over react in that way, it usually needs to be primed first. It’s the times after the first sting that you really need to pay attention to and make sure you have your epi pen handy!


    1. Thank you 🙂

      That’s very interesting in regards to the likelihood of an anaphylactic shock after a first sting. I did not know that. Just for the record, I have notified my family and legal counsel about your advise given. If I get stung and then die, you can expect to be sued forthwith! :p

      Have a great weekend 🙂


  3. What a lovely and well-written piece. It is wonderful to have had a moment of connection with another living being – different from you – and to teach your children respect for others – even if they are little bees. As an ethical vegan, I am very much aware that all of us humans are in the dominant group and the other animals are vulnerable to us. Do we as individuals and a society decide that all animals, human and nonhuman, have a right to be free from human exploitation? Or do we draw a line a line between human animals and nonhuman animals, just like others draw a line between “normal” people and “crazy”/addicted people, or between blacks and whites, men and women – perpetuating the same might-makes-right mentality? Do we honor another living being’s right to his/her life or do we use them for our food, entertainment, fashion?


    1. HI Beth,

      Thank you for such a lovely comment! It was nice to hear that you guys enjoyed reading what is my first ‘official’ written blog post! Whilst I share writing from a number of authors on Kindness Blog, I have not done anything myself. Then yesterday morning I was struck with the sudden overwhelming urge to write about the Bee and I. So I did! 🙂

      You make a number of acute observations in regards to how we tend to put people, animals and ‘things’ in to lists. Those we approve of and love, those we hate and those we feel relatively ambivalent about. In some ways this is a necessary thing, but when our list-making causes such wide-spread suffering to other sentient beings, then I feel that a radical re-think of our ethics is needed.



  4. I loved this! I could picture it perfectly. You are a brave man, I would never go near a spider. Yet, I can say I do not loathe them.
    I think it’s very easy to translate fear into hate. Thus it’s key to understand that fear is fear and it lives inside us, and has nothing to do with the object or person causing the emotion. I try to live my life by not projecting my emotions onto other things, and it allows me to respect and understand what I feel and also respect everything around me.


    1. Hey 🙂

      Yes, similar to you, I also try to be mindful of my internal emotions and how the feelings that arise within me are MY feelings. I own them and it is up to me to make peace with them. Trying to remove what |I incorrectly perceive to be the cause of these feelings (other people) is, in my opinion, just not going to work.



  5. Mike, your description of your experience is priceless! I was with you 100%. When I was a much younger person, I was terrified of bees and hornets and wasps and YELLOW JACKETS. OMG. And it just so happened that I was with some friends and they decided to go to an outdoor amusement park in NJ, USA. It was very crowded, and the snack and hot dog booths were very busy, of course. There was also plenty of huge metal uncovered barrels where people threw their trash. You know where this is going, I’m sure. I was so scared, that I ran, screaming, into an enclosure where the game machines were. The yellow jackets were VERY well-fed. They were monsters!! And I was afraid to come out. It was a huge, full-blown panic attack. Finally, a long time afterward, they decided to leave the park, and I very gingerly moved with them. It was, I believe, the most awful time I ever had. Whew!


  6. I have enjoyed your article as I too fear any stinging insects and for good reason — I’m extremely allergic! I’m a BBW, have ADD and am descended from an unpopular historical ancestor, so have experienced the discrimination you mention in your post, however, I know who I belong to as I’m a daughter of the KING and He loves me, “warts” and all. To understand more about mental illness, you ought to visit this website, They advocate understanding of the mentally ill through hosting FREE workshops taught by members of families with experience. Also, I recently watched Dr. Daniel Amen on our local television station, ordered his book and a couple of videos of his through interlibrary loan. He also has first-hand experience as well as being a psychiatrist and is wonderful.;


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