Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman is doing his part to save the environment. The 81-year-old film star has converted his 124-acre Mississippi ranch into a bee sanctuary. Freeman, who was sent to live with his grandmother in Charleston as a child, purchased the ranch from his parents in 1991. The actor also owns the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.
Freeman's interest in beekeeping dates back to 2014. He discussed his new hobby during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The actor had recently begun keeping bees and he spoke about the need to ensure a habitat for bees to preserve the environment. "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 at the time.
In order to get started, Freeman imported 26 bee hives from Arkansas to Mississippi. There, he began feeding the bees sugar and water and planting bee-friendly magnolia trees, lavender, clover, etc. His relationship with the bees is an amicable. He said he never wears a bee suit or hat and has never been stung. He also has no intention of harvesting honey or disturbing the beehives.
The EPA has blamed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as the leading cause of decline in bee populations in recent years. CCD occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving behind a queen, food and few nurse bees to care for the remaining bees. The sustained destruction of bee colonies can result in an array of ecological and agricultural problems since bees are essential as pollinators for plants.
Last fall, the Trump Administration lifted bans on the use of bee-killing pesticides. The ban had prevented the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are linked to diminishing wild bee populations around the world. The combination of pesticides and insect resistant GMO crops has resulted in the widespread loss of bee colonies. A study by the University of Vermont found that wild bee populations in the United States had dropped by 23 percent from 2008 and 2013.
According to the journal Science, although there is no evidence that bees are currently endangered as a species, the ongoing decline of bee populations can have devastating effects on wild vegetation and agricultural crops around the world.