Morgan Freeman turned his ranch into a giant bee sanctuary
The 82-year-old screen star converted his 124-acre Charleston, Mississippi ranch into a bee sanctuary.
Freeman first started keeping bees in 2014 when he brought 26 hives from Arkansas and began by feeding them sugar and water. He later planted acres of bee-friendly magnolia trees, clover, and lavender.
Two-weeks after Freeman began taking care of the bees, he appeared on The Tonight Show and discussed beekeeping with Jimmy Fallon. Freeman discussed his experiences taking care of the bees and what motivated him to do so saying, "There is a concerted effort for bringing bees back onto the planet…We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation..."
Freeman told the audience that he never wears a beekeeper's suit or hat and that he has never been stung and doesn't believe he ever will be. He said he only feeds the bees and has no plans to harvest honey or disrupt the sanctuary he built for them. His only goal is to help repopulate the dying honeybee population.
In a 2016 interview on Larry King Live, Freeman also discussed why it is so important to build bee sanctuaries, "there has been a frightening loss in bee colonies, practically in this country," Freeman told King. "To such an extent that scientists are now saying, 'this is dangerous.'"
The issue is not just in the US but is a global problem. Farmers rely on honeybees and other insects to pollinate our crops. If the pollinators die off, we will lose much of our food including almonds, apples, cherries, and mangoes. Over 80 percent of food crops require pollination from bees and insects.
American and European beekeepers have lost over 30 percent of their bee colonies to colony collapse every year since 2006. The reasons for this are not completely known but there are several factors that most-likely contributed to this decline including environmental stressors, neonicotinoid pesticides, and the varroa mite that infest bee colonies according to recent research.
Bees may also be dying due to climate change. A survey conducted by Auburn University and the University of Maryland last year showed that the unusually severe hurricanes and winter storms that resulted from climate change have severely impacted bee colonies.
"Changes in climate and weather affect food and forage for bees," survey coordinator Geoffrey Williams, an assistant professor at Auburn in Alabama told Bloomberg. "It’s pretty obvious that if you have bees already on the edge and you have a radical, quick weather shift, they aren’t going to do as well."
Bees seem to be rebounding since 2016 due to the efforts of Freeman and other bee champions who are working hard to implement new farm bee-friendly strategies and governments that are banning pesticides that harm bees. Now, there is room for some healthy optimism that the trend has been reversed.