We’ve all heard about the dramatic decline in the bee population all over the world. Whether or not you’re a fan of the little buzzers, they play an integral role in our ecosystem.
Our agricultural system doesn’t work – which means food doesn’t grow – unless pollination takes place and bees are responsible for 80% of pollination. According to Greenpeace, 90% of the world’s nutrition requires bees for pollination.
The use of pesticides, habitat destruction, air pollution, and climate change have all played a role in the decimation of the world’s bee population and now one famous actor is doing his part to help build it back up.
Morgan Freeman is using 124-acres of his own land in Mississippi to protect hundreds of thousands of bees.
The 81-year-old star took up beekeeping as a hobby back in 2014 when he first read about the planet’s massive bee die-off.
Now, he has installed 26 bee hives on his Mississippi ranch and planted clover, magnolia trees, and lavender in order to turn it into a bee paradise.
“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,” he said in an interview with Jimmy Fallon.
The hives on Freeman’s ranch were imported from a small town in Arkansas called Arkadelphia.
It turns out that out of the 4,000 species of bees found in North America, hundreds of them are native to Arkansas.
He also told Fallon that he needs no protection from the creatures:
“I have not ever used the beekeeping hat with my bees. They haven’t stung me yet, as right now I am not trying to harvest honey or anything, but I just feed them…I also think that they understand, ‘Hey, don’t bother this guy, he’s got sugar water here.”
When Fallon expressed concern that his guest tended to bees unprotected, Freeman joked that he had a special relationship with them and that beekeeping suits were simply for people “who can’t resonate” with the creatures.
At the time, however, Freeman had only had his bees for about two weeks, so we don’t know how many stings he might be up to now – we’re guessing a few at least.
Since the bees are new to the Mississipi environment and don’t know the lay of the land or where they can find food, Freeman needs to tend to them quite a bit. He feeds them a combination of 2 parts sugar and one part water which goes into a feeder that he then sticks into the hive.
Hives can contain anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 bees, so the 26 hives on Freeman’s property hold quite a big population!
And Freeman isn’t the only Hollywood star to get into beekeeping. Leonardo DiCaprio Scarlett Johansson, and Martha Stewart are all amateur beekeepers as well.
Despite the rise in beekeeping as a conservation measure, some scientists are pointing out that honeybees aren’t necessarily the best species to be concentrating on – it’s wild bees that we should be more concerned about. With honeybee keeping on the rise (after all, beekeepers do get honey out of it), these bees are actually competing for resources with the more endangered wild bees.
Freeman’s interview is unclear on what kind of bees he’s keeping, although some outlets report that he did import wild bees to his sanctuary (and he does say in the interview that he’s not collecting honey).
Scroll down to see Freeman’s 2014 interview with Jimmy Fallon in which he describes his newfound interest in beekeeping. Skip ahead to 2:16 for that part of the conversation.