Buzz About Bees: Adolescents’ Experiences, Knowledge, and Attitudes Toward Bees

2017-07-22T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Alexandra M. Silva
Declines in biodiversity have been recorded in ecosystems worldwide. Developing and implementing successful conservation efforts will require interdisciplinary research that considers the ecological and social realities of today’s world. One method involves examining the relationships between humans and wildlife in order to identify the factors influencing people’s engagement in conservation behavior. Invertebrates have been notoriously disregarded within conservation efforts, which has been widely attributed to the general ignorance, apathy, and disdain most people hold for these creatures. Bees represent one of the most ecologically and economically important invertebrates, with which humans have a long and storied history. Despite the continued importance of bees as pollinators, bees are capable of inflicting harm upon humans and are regarded neutrally by most, which may prove problematic to future conservation efforts. Adolescents represent the world’s future decision-makers and are within what is thought to be the best developmental stage to foster conservation-orientated attitudes and behaviors toward bees. This study uses results from a paper questionnaire completed by 794 eighth-grade science students to explore three general dimensions of suburban adolescents’ relationships with bees and to investigate how these dimensions are related to one another. The dimensions include adolescents’ (1) experiences, (2) knowledge, and (3) attitudes. The results indicate adolescents are only somewhat knowledgeable of bee biology and services and confuse bees with other flying insects, including yellow jackets and paper wasps. Moreover, adolescents regard bees with a generally neutral attitude, though adolescents’ knowledge and attitudes correlated in a slightly positive manner. The various types of bee-related experiences an adolescent had were linked to one’s knowledge and attitudes, in some cases, and also may have influenced bee-related behavior. Of particular note, students who engaged in gardening and lawn care activities were more likely to demonstrate more knowledge and better attitudes toward bees. This study provides insight into the interrelated influences of experiences, knowledge, and attitudes upon the relationship between adolescents and bees. Engaging with school gardens and providing access to observation beehives within the classroom are two potential approaches to promoting bee conservation among adolescents, and thus their future adult selves.