Who is abuzz about bees? Explaining residents’ attitudes in Phoenix, Arizona

Kelli L. Larson, Melissa Fleeger, Susannah B. Lerman, Megan M. Wheeler, Riley Andrade, Jeffrey A. Brown, Sharon J. Hall, Desiree L. Narango

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Many stressors plague bee populations including habitat fragmentation and degradation, as well as pathogens and pesticide exposure. With bee communities at risk, conservation efforts are imperative. Although recent research has examined bee communities across cities, few studies have analyzed variation in human attitudes toward and perceptions of bees, or how these perspectives might influence bee conservation. We therefore analyzed residents’ attitudes toward and perceptions of bees, specifically in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Primarily drawing upon 2017 survey data (n = 496, 39% response rate), we posed the following questions: 1) What cognitive, environmental, and social factors explain whether people like or dislike bees? and 2) How do attitudes and perceptions about bees relate to land management practices, specifically landscaping choices, herbicide and pesticide use, and desert plantings? Overall, attitudes toward bees were mostly neutral with a slight trend toward dislike but most residents did not believe bees were problematic at their homes. Additional findings reveal that risk perceptions, ecological worldviews, and pet ownership significantly explained attitudes toward bees. Moreover, people who live closer to desert parks had relatively positive attitudes toward bees. Regarding yard management practices, both attitudes toward and perceptions of bees were positively correlated with adding desert plants to residential yards. Moreover, people who use pesticides had more negative attitudes toward bees. Our results indicate conservation potential for urban bee populations, for example, by planting native vegetation in residential areas near desert preserves. We hope this study will result in more attitudinal research on bee species and other understudied urban wildlife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-48
Number of pages14
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Bee conservation
  • Environmental attitudes
  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Urban ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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