We looked at the likability of bees in a recent collaboration led by Kelli Larson and CAP LTER colleagues. With over 1,000 species, the Sonoran Desert is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world for bees. Human development is a major challenge for bee conservation. However, urban areas can also support bee populations with local actions such as habitat provisioning. Public attitudes are important to understand because they reflect people’s support for conservation initiatives.
Using a long-term household survey, known as PASS, we asked people living in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area (1) How much they liked bees, and (2) If bees presented a problem at their home. Although the majority of people didn’t see bees as a major problem, they were fairly neutral in liking bees, especially compared to other pollinators such as hummingbird or butterfly species. Both likability and being viewed as problematic were related to yard management activities that support bee populations, such as planting native desert vegetation or the use of pesticides. People who liked bees were more likely to add desert plants to their yard and use less chemicals.
Larson, K.L., Fleeger, M., Lerman, S.B., Wheeler, M.M., Andrade, R., Brown, J.A., Hall, S.J. and Narango, D.L., Who is abuzz about bees? Explaining residents’ attitudes in Phoenix, Arizona. Urban Ecosystems, pp.1-14. Link to paper.