In a valiant effort to give bees a chance, Morgan Freeman takes up beekeeping and offers them a safe haven. Morgan Freeman Transforms 124-Acre Ranch into a Honeybee Sanctuary
The news has long been out about the collapsing bee populations. These tiny friends of pollination are suffering in today’s world and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. A simple Google search will bring up a plethora of articles related to bee die-offs. And yet, the EPA is still allowing widespread, heavy use of bee-killing neonicotinoids by big agriculture, clearing sulfoxaflor–an insecticide considered “very highly toxic” to bees by the agency itself–for use on over 16 million acres of crops that attract bees. And then there’s climate change. And then there’s EMFs. And then there’s being fed High Fructose Corn Syrup. And then…
What’s a bee to do?
Apparently, head over to Morgan Freeman’s ranch.
In 2014, when the acclaimed actor heard of the plight of the bees, he began the conversion of his 124-acre ranch into a bee sanctuary. His steps were the same as any person would take, but maybe on a bit larger scale. He brought in 26 beehives from Arkansas and planted acre upon acre of bee-attracting vegetation including magnolia trees, lavender, and clover. When the hives arrived at his home, he was able to build a unique relationship with his new land-mates: while he fed them the sugar water they needed to adjust to their new setting, he never wore a suit and was never stung. “I’ve not ever used (the beekeeping hat) with my bees,” he says. “They haven’t (stung me) yet, because right now I’m not trying to harvest honey or anything, I’m just feeding them… I think they understand, ‘Hey, don’t bother this guy, he’s got sugar water here.'” Unlike, a lot of bee-keepers who tend to hives to and reap the honey that the bees so diligently produce, Freeman says his intention is just to help the bees repopulate. This means he never takes honey or disrupts their work. They are just allowed to bee.
In 2014, Freeman added his voice to the conservation cries of awareness to the declining bee population. Two weeks after he received his hives, he was interviewed by Jimmy Fallon. You can check that out below.
More recently, Freeman was interviewed by Larry King. He isn’t shy about his feelings about the collapse of bee colonies. “There is a frightening loss of bee colonies, particularly in this country…to such an extent that scientists are now saying, ‘This is dangerous.'” He goes on in the interview to liken the bee die-off with the infamous canary in the coal mine and ends the interview with this grave reality: “We have thousands and thousands of species disappearing because of what we are doing.”
A Little Buzz About Bees and Honey
It takes an extraordinary amount of bees to produce one pound of honey. It takes about 556 worker bees to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers. It takes about 55,000 flight miles per gallon (12#) of honey. The average honey bee will make only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime (6 weeks).
The honey industry is a $14 billion business here in the US and like nearly all businesses, its goal is to generate more money for the owners at the exploitation of the workers.
If honey bees were left to their own devices, they produce just enough honey to keep themselves alive throughout the winter. Research also shows that eating honey made from pollen gives bees a chemical that they need to help break down the toxins in pesticides. In order, though to keep this sweet business alive, honey is taken from the bees which are fed a sugar substitute for the lack of honey they are left with.
Enter cheaply produced and highly subsidized High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
The most cost-effective way for commercialized honey producers to feed their bees during the lean foraging time is to give them HFCS. Not only are bees ingesting something highly processed and highly concentrated (which is toxic to us, as well), they are eating something laden with pesticides (read: chemicals meant to kill bugs). That is self-explanatory, right?
Following in Morgan’s Footsteps
Yes, we all don’t own 124-acres in which to devote to bees, but there are a few things that can be done to following in the caring footsteps of Morgan Freeman.
- Know your honey source: If you are a consumer of honey, get to know your beekeepers. Many bee keepers use organic sugar to keep their bees fed during the winter months. Search them out. Be willing to pay these artisans what their work is worth. Remember, one bee=1/12 tsp of honey. A lot of work goes into making that spoonful of honey.
- Keep your space free of pesticides: This is vital for the survival of all creatures.
- Plant flowers: Turn your space into a nectar-rich sanctuary. Fill your yard space with pollen-filled flowers.
- Learn about bees: Many people have been raised to be afraid of bees (and all pollinators, for that matter). Knowledge can be freedom. Here is an informative video that shows how honey is made, how the hive operates and explains all about the amazing dance of the honey bee.
- Donate to bee-keepers: Personally, I have known several bee-keepers who work hard to tend to these important members of the food web. I also know of one outstanding woman who supplies the organic sugar necessary to keep one beekeeper stocked for the winter months. You can also do this. Talk to your local beekeepers and make a donation to them for the organic sugar they need. Often times, it’s the people behind the scenes at organic food ventures that are in need of a little extra support beyond just buying a pint of honey. If you have the resources, this is a worthwhile cause.
Thank you, Morgan!
It’s reassuring to see high-profile humans dedicating a portion of their existence to the benefit of all life. Thank you, Mr. Freeman for being one of these humans.