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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment


Ecological Society of America

Publication Date



Recent analyses suggesting that certain populations of bees may be declining have led to a variety of conservation efforts, many of which rely on public support and participation. However, little is known about the public's knowledge of bee diversity. We carried out a survey to measure public understanding of bee diversity and found that although 99% of respondents believed that bees are critical or important, only 14% were able to guess within 1000 the actual number of bee species in the US. Furthermore, when reviewing a selection of photographs depicting various insects, many respondents were unable to discern bees from non-bees. Our findings show that even as scientific research on bees has rapidly expanded, the public remains largely uninformed on the subject, especially with regard to the wealth of bee diversity in the US. In light of the fact that conservation efforts require substantial public support, any programs aimed at stopping or mitigating be population declines will need to include outreach and education measures.

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