Apiculturist Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, and a professional bee wrangler, worked behind the scenes in a new Animal Planet program, “My Extreme Animal Phobia,” which was broadcast on the Animal Planet Channel.
“It is a story about a man who is extremely afraid of bees,” Gary said. “He is treated successfully by various exposures to bees and consultation with Sacramento psychologist Robin Zazio.”
Some of the filming was done at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. Staff research associate Elizabeth Frost provided a bee observation hive. The producers also asked to use some macro photos of honey bees taken by communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey. They were shown to the man with from the phobia.
Gary also did bee wrangling for another episode of Fear Factor, which enters a new season in December.
Gary is the author of a newly published book on beginning beekeeping titled “Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.”
“Keeping bees is far more challenging than caring for common pets,” said Gary, who retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career.
Gary trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. His credits over the last 35 years include 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes”; more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno shows; six commercials, and hundreds of live Thriller Bee Shows in the Western states.
He once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt.