The Hollywood actor with a voice worth millions is also a well-known supporter of the environment. Morgan Freeman lends his talents to narrating for eco-friendly organizations like One Earth; he’s even lent his home to help another incredibly important cause: to save honeybees.
“Colony Collapse Disorder” is a recent phenomenon of the last 50 years. Honeybees have been vanishing from the planet at an alarming rate. Between the years 2015 and 2016 alone, honeybee populations declined by a catastrophic 44 percent in the United States, according to Livekindly CEO Jodi Monelle.
“Bees may be small but they are extremely hard-working creatures and if that tiny two percent is lost, 80 percent of our food from crop cultivation will also disappear,” Monelle says.
"Get busy living or get busy dying" – Red Morgan Freeman
In Las Vegas receiving the Cinema Icon Award at CinemaCon. Also, Oblivion hits theaters today…much to celebrate!(Photo courtesy of: Caesars Entertainment).
Which is why 81-year-old Freeman has converted his 124-acre ranch in Charleston, Mississippi, into a giant bee sanctuary. Going from acting to filmmaking and directing, and much more, Freeman can add beekeeping to his repertoire. Through his efforts, he hopes to revive and conserve honeybee populations, while thoroughly enjoying himself the whole time.
During an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” Freeman told Jimmy Fallon how he’d taken up the hobby just two weeks prior—that was in 2014. He had learned about the mass die-offs of honeybees, and had shipped in 26 hives full of bees from Arkansas. Being so far from home, though, the bees didn’t know where to find food. Thankfully, he was able to resolve that issue.
Freeman explained that he feeds them two parts sugar with one part water. He told Fallon that he never wears beekeeping hats or protective clothing. Nor has he ever been stung by them while doing so, he said. Which leads into some hilarious dialogue between the famed actor and the host that’s definitely worth a watch! See for yourself:
“I have not ever used the beekeeping hat with my bees,” Freeman says. “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.’”
Freeman adds, “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 … I have a lot of flowering things, and I have a gardener too.
“As she takes care of the bees too, all she does is figure out, ‘OK, what would they like to have?’ so we have got acres and acres of clover, and we have some planting stuff like lavender, I have got like, maybe 140 magnolia trees, big blossoms.”
According to Monelle, there are three main contributors to the collapsing honeybee populations. She shares via the Livekindly website:
Commonly used in crop cultivation and throughout the agriculture industry in general, chemical sprays and pesticides have been found to be partially responsible for the death and impairment of bees (and other wildlife). Measuring the direct correlation between pollinator health and pesticide use is complex however there is substantial evidence on toxicity in bee colonies subsequent to chemical exposure.
Intensive Farming Practices
Relying heavily on perennial habitats such as forests, hedgerows, lush grasslands and fields; bees, it seems, are struggling to find spaces to call home. Due to the intensification of modern day agricultural practices, valuable land and wildlife habitats are becoming less and less available. At the same time however, according to a 2013 report from Greenpeace “agriculture systems that work with biodiversity and without chemicals, such as ecological farming systems, can benefit pollinator communities, both managed and wild.”
Parasites, Disease, and Viruses
The introduction of viruses and parasites such as Varroa destructor and Nosema ceranae have been found to be serious threats to honeybee colonies. Commercial bees are often transported to unnatural locations which means they are at risk to exposure of new viruses and pathogens which then causes disease among bees and eventually collapsed colonies.