Lindemann-Matthies, P., Mulyk, L. & Remmele, M. (2021). Garden plants for wild bees – Laypersons’ assessment of their suitability and opinions on gardening approaches, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 62.
Abstract Gardens can support wild bees in otherwise resource-poor environments if they provide suitable food plants and nesting sites. Public attitudes towards planting for pollinators are currently not well understood and little information
is available about what laypersons know about bee-friendly plants. The present study aimed to fill this knowledge gap with the help of photographs of 30 garden plants. Half of these plants were suitable food sources (nectar and/or pollen) for wild bees, the other half were not. Laypersons’ perceptions of the 30 plants and their attitudes towards certain types of garden management (bee-friendly or not) were investigated. The plants were assigned to five picture sets (each set included three suitable and three unsuitable plants), and for each set data from 40 persons were collected (n =200, all adults, 63 % women). Participants considered plants that are suitable for wild bees as more suitable than plants that are not. However, an overall mean suitability score of 4.9 on the 7-step assessment scale even for the unsuitable plants indicated that respondents were not able to clearly differentiate between the two types. Most plants were perceived as beautiful and desirable, which correlated with attributed bee suitability. For this reason, a number of attractive plants that do not produce pollen such as Forsythia x intermedia were considered suitable for wild bees, while common ivy (Hedera helix), a good provider of nectar, but one of the least attractive plants, was not. Participants placed importance on bee-friendly, ecological gardening. The support for bee-friendly gardening was linked to the number of plants participants could correctly identify and to their ecological knowledge. The results suggest that while many people would like to improve the suitability of their gardens for bees, there is a lack of knowledge about bee-friendly species and a need for improved information and communication.