It's no secret that bees are dying across the globe. And while there are a number of factors contributing to this dire problem, one is a dearth of bee-friendly vegetation. One 2015 study in the journal Science called habitat loss "a major long-term driver" for reduced bee populations today. It's no secret, then, that increasing the availability of bee-friendly flowers and other plants is a great way to sustain or even grow the bee population.
Actor Morgan Freeman is doing his part: in 2014, he converted his 124-acre Mississippi ranch into a bee sanctuary.
“There has been a frightening loss of bee colonies, particularly in this country," the actor told Larry King regarding his motivations in 2016. "The scientists are saying it’s dangerous.”
Freeman isn't wrong.
Studies have shown that dying bees will likely contribute to higher food costs and may even lead to widespread shortages of everything from tomatoes to almonds. Activists are attempting to reverse this problem in myriad ways, including vying for heavier regulations on neonicotinoid pesticides – some of the most common worldwide – which a host of studies have shown are at least in part to blame. When bees come into contact with these pesticides, their abilities to fly, navigate, and communicate are hindered, further impeding their already paltry access to food.
The EU banned the three most commonly used neonics last year, and after much back and forth, including a 2018 reversal of a 2014 blanket ban on the use of the pesticides, the EPA decided, in May of this year, to revoke approval for several products containing neonics (though others, including sulfoxaflor, are still allowed).
While many would love to take a page out of Freeman's book and start raising bees of their own, a recent article in The Conversation explored the reasons why amateur beekeeping might not be the best solution.
"Managing hives does nothing to protect our wild pollinators," writes the outlet. "It's the equivalent of farming chickens to save wild birds."
Giving rise issues including the transference of pathogens and active competition between farmed and wild honeybees, amateur beekeeping could actually be a step in the wrong direction.
Freeman's initiative, however, compounds beekeeping with another all-important step: The actor has planted his ranch with bee-friendly plants including magnolia, lavender, and clover, which give his bees access to more than enough food to help them grow and keep them from stepping on the furry toes of their wild cousins. His ranch may even feed them, too!
Related on Organic Authority
12 Bee-Friendly Plants for an Awesome Herb Garden
Neonicotinoid Pesticides Prevent Bees from Flying, Study Finds
Struggling Honey Bees are Making Poisonous Honey: Pesticide Residue Widespread, Study Finds