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by Abigail Van Buren

A Bee in Her Bonnet Is Not This Woman's Wish

DEAR ABBY: I have a strange and wacky problem that I have never seen addressed in your column. I have an intense fear of bees, hornets and wasps. I'm sure this will seem silly to many, but there may be others who share this crazy fear, although I have never met them.

Over the years, my fears have intensified. It is very embarrassing at times. Whenever I hear anything that sounds like a bee -- an electric razor, a buzzing sound on the radio -- I have a panic attack until I can locate the source.

I rarely go outdoors in the summertime (thank God, I work in an office), and I never wear perfume in the daytime during bee season. When I do gather the courage to go to a barbecue or some other outdoor event, I either leave early or stay inside the car. There must be a place for me to "escape" to or I won't even consider going.

My last apartment was chosen with great consideration for its landscaping. There are no flowers or bushes to attract bees. I am so deathly afraid of bees that I have (a) jumped out of a moving car, (b) left a 2-year-old child in the middle of the street, (c) run out into traffic, and done other outrageous things in a panic while trying to escape from bees.

Otherwise, I am a sane and sensible person. I wish there were some kind of device I could wear to discourage bees from coming to me. -- PAULA IN QUINCY, MASS.

DEAR PAULA: Your problem is not bees, it is your inappropriate overreaction to the buzzing. Your irrational fear is making you a potential danger to yourself and others. Therefore, I urge you to work through your phobia with a therapist who specializes in banishing such fears. (Ask your family doctor for a referral.)

Meanwhile, ask your local pharmacist and/or the proprietor of the nearest sporting goods store for a reliable bee repellent. And good luck.