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Morgan Freeman Converts His 124-Acre Ranch into a Giant Bee Sanctuary (gomcgill.com)
353 points by gscott 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments

Near my house there is what you could call a insect ”sanctuary”. When it was established a few tears ago we kind of shrug our shoulders and did not think much of it. But the amount of new flowers and insects popping up, not only inside but also around the area is astonishing.

I almost see it as a positive feedback loop with more insects, better pollination, more diverse flowers, more insects...

Just as pesticides could create a negative feedback loop.

Could you describe the sanctuary nearby? We live on a typical city lot, and I am going to try to become a mini-sanctuary over the next few years and would love working examples.

Be careful of your city bylaws. I grew a wildflower garden in my backyard in Canada and got a complaint once. Given that the neighbour to one side asked be to do it makes me think it might have been the neighbour on the other side :-) I actually didn't mind cutting it down because I was moving that year anyway, but it pays to talk with your neighbours and find out what the city requires. It is especially important to understand what is and is not a noxious weed and to be on top of keeping them out of your sanctuary.

Actually, there is a pro-organic, pollinator and wildlife friendly program in my city whose lead I am following. Another reason I don't move....

My only plan for the summer is to seed the lawn with clover, water weekly, and keep it cut at the top height of my mower.

How big was your garden, and how visible from the neighbors? In the front I can see that, but who cares in the back, at least in my area.

Ah in that case I don't think you'll have a problem. I had white clover, camomile and timothy hay (the latter I don't recommend, but it's an annual, so easy to recover from ;-) ) in the front and didn't get any complaints about it.

The back yard was HUGE. I had wild daisies, black eyed susans, and a variety of other wild flowers. The previous year I'd grown it in order to bring in butterflies, etc and my one neighbour really liked it because they could see it from their second floor windows. The way I did it was to grow it into about the middle of July and after most of the flowering was finished to mow it down.

I think the other neighbour was trying to sell their house that year and instead of just telling me they made a complaint to the city. In fact, I'm willing to bet that it wasn't my neighbours (who I was friendly with) but their real estate agent. Like I said, I was not worried about it at all, but having the city inspector to come to your house and demand that you cut your garden is somewhat stressful (especially if you were planning to grow it out).

You may get some push back from neighbours about the white clover because it is fairly invasive, but probably there isn't anything they can do about it. Anyway, good luck with your lawn! I really enjoyed mine. If you feel like it, mix in some camomile when you overseed. I think you won't regret it (low growing, super soft, smells nice and pretty yellow flowers if you let it grow long enough).

On my lawn I have clover, daisies, dandelions, and fescue. Fescue is the only one I planted.

The bees are quite pleased

We have a lot of rain in Waitati and I do not water it. Three years ago it dried out and large parts went brown. Came back happily when the rains came back

Sounds like you live in a HOA

HOAs are exceedingly rare in Canada, outside condo associations.

The GP's neighbor sounds like they have their panties in a bunch but going out of your way not to offend/annoy those kind of people is just the reality in those kind of places. If you want to live somewhere "nice" but not the middle of nowhere you need to conform. Unfortunately things like having a large garden, having parties, having a project boat, or collecting late 80s vintage cars do not fit within the scope of "conforming" for the purposes of the upper middle class suburban neighborhoods that most HNers will settle down in. The GP didn't conform so his neighbor complained and someone sent him a letter on official letterhead. It doesn't really matter who's letterhead it's on.

Only well off suburban/urban communities the resources to justify mediating disputes to the tune of "my neighbor's hobbies look/sound/smell offensive". If you want freedom to do what you want on your own property you need your neighbors to either have bigger problems or be far enough away to not care. Those places don't generally have good schools or aren't within commuting distance of lots of good jobs. There's tradeoffs to every approach.

This is something I have never really understood. If your neighbors can hear or smell your hobby, then you are not really staying contained on your own property and neighbors who complain are not trampling your liberties, just asserting their own.

Not whining over the slightest inconvenience is part of existing in civil society. Complaining about your neighbor using an air hammer on steel at 11pm, ok. Complaining about your neighbor using an air hammer on steel at normal hours = not ok.

It all comes down to being reasonable and in middle upper class suburbia the Overton window of what is reasonable has moved to favor the complainers over the people who want to go about their lives to the point where those places have seen fit to legislate (or enforce via HOA) what is "reasonable" and that inevitably turns into a race to the bottom.

Conversely, having some consideration for your neighbors is part of existing in civil society.

I live in a neighborhood that very closely fits the definition of upper middle class suburbia, and the power balance is most assuredly not in favor of complainers. Quite the opposite in fact.

I also think you do a disservice to this discussion by suggesting it is just innocent people going about their lives that are being held back by the evil complainers. From my perspective it is the assholes driving their damn two-cycle quads up and down the street for hours every morning where there's more than half an inch of snow on the ground. These folks are not going about their lives, they are entertaining themselves at the neighborhood's expense.

I detest HOAs but a well-run community benefits from a collective agreement on what constitutes 'reasonable'.

You haven't lived next to retired people with nothing but free time on their hands.

A large part of us moving out of the suburbs and somewhere rural was the adjacent retired neighbors always being in our business. I'm all for being a considerate neighbor but there's little substitute for a lot of space between you and your neighbor.

Good fences make good neighbors.

HOAs make what's on your side of your fence potentially someone else's business again.

(And they frequently ban chain-link fences, even when they are a cheap, effective, and durable way to put up a fence that won't be popping rusty deck screws out of the slats in three years (or less!) and letting the dogs escape.)

Yeah, except the city defines what's an acceptable fence height(3ft) and how much you spend(~$400) when you want to fix the fence that's falling over(via permit process).

(FWIW I have no issues with paying taxes but annoying to have to pay to fix something existing that's broken).

Well, my next-door neighbors are retired, but they're not jerks.

I agree that more space is better. Once my kids are out of school (which is within walking distance currently) we will move farther out of town. Mostly because I get tired of listening to my neighbors' hobbies ;-)

Got a kick out of your air hammer example because I happen to be working on a project that involves me using an air hammer (among other loud pneumatic tools) on many weeknights. The key was I actually took the time before starting to gasp sit down and talk to my neighbors and agree on things like noise level, hours I’d be working, keeping the garage door shut, etc. Lucked out by having reasonable neighbors, but you can usually head off trouble by talking with people as if they were grown adults. Ended up costing me nothing but a new quieter air compressor, and no visits from the city yet.

Giving them something works a treat. I assume my bees will misbehave one day and irritate neighbours so I have preemptively handed over many kgs of honey. Some have been keen and had a look in the hives too. The neighbours haven’t complained yet tho SOs have, as once I had a beemageddon when I had a bit of a honey extraction disaster had everyone in the house had to leave home for the day until I sorted it out. Bees were coming in keyholes, extractor fans and gaps in closed windows.

But the line is broad, grey, and subjective.

Which is why we have officials with letterheads to mediate.

Hearing or smelling something from a neighbouring property is just something you have to live with. Just like leaves that fall off a neighbour's trees into your property, may be a pain to tidy up, but that's just life. Sound and smell travel, should I have pave over my garden because you have allergies or don't like the smell of my roses or the manure that I feed them?

In a number of states including Massachusetts, there are towns that have right-to-farm ordinances. They're not just anything goes obviously but the basic intent is to tell people that they really shouldn't move to a fairly rural old farm town and then complain that their neighbor is planting corn, raising goats, or generally doesn't have a neatly manicured lawn.

Having lived in MA and every New England state north of it MA is highly, highly variable when it comes to what happens on your property being your business and nobody else's.

Basically anywhere that was incorporated back when they were still burning witches is going to be downright terrible. Of the areas that were developed later some were not blind to the mistakes of the past and these tend to be pretty good. My own town's bylaws are pretty libertarian. They even enumerate the right of the self employed to run a business out of their own home (so long as you don't park too many commercial vehicles over 26k in a residential zone) and are sprinkled with all sorts of great language that limits the government's ability to control the individual. It's almost as good as not living in MA.

That said, while the legal and procedural side of things may be ok, the cultural side is not that great. MA (in my anecdotal experience) is light years behind northern New England when it comes to cultural respect for property rights. Being that busybody who calls the cops because the neighbor's kid won't stop yelling or reports your neighbor's non-permitted driveway repaving to the town is far more tolerated in MA. That kind of stuff is not considered socially acceptable in northern New England for the most part.

I'm sure it does vary. My MA town was incorporated in 1653 and I've never had neighbor or town issues--but then we're all on a fair bit of land.

Not the parent, but my situation is similar to yours and so I'll offer my experience :

First, raked out [thinned / dethatched bermudagrass rhizomes] an area roughly 100 square feet. Broadcast region-appropriate wildflower and herb seed mixes [I'm in the southwest, but regional mixes are available everywhere].

Planted lots and lots of herbs in containers - mints, basils, and every kind of kitchen herb. Herbs tend to attract masses of bees with their yummy inflorescences. Had the added benefit of creating a supply of fresh kitchen herbs. I started out with probably two dozen herbs in containers the first year.

Planted lots of sunflowers in borders and pre-existing beds. Bulletproof plants that attract an alarming number of bees. Also had the side benefit of attracting a flock of feral lovebirds [!], who ate not only the seeds but the flesh of the plant [!!]

Planted a goodly number of squash and pumpkins all around, wherever space permitted

^ that was the first year, and boy I tell you, did the bees ever come! I was amazed to see mobs of bees on the sunflowers and gangs of bees fighting to occupy the pumpkin blossoms. They teemed on the spikes of mint flowers and buzzed in the chicory. All this with very little effort -- the above plants require very little maintenance beyond judicious watering. The one 'trick' is to water with a fine spray wand while the seeds are getting established, so as not to dislodge them.

The second year, I planted sweet clover [Melliotus altissumus] and flowering fruit trees [peach, citrus, apple] and spread more wildflower seeds around. The sweet clover grows tall but pays off with just ridiculous amounts of bee action and great aroma.

The original wildflower planting had already 'established' and a lot of the annuals in there self-seeded. Same goes for herbs like basil. I planted even more herbs in pots the second year, going for more variety, and carrots which if allowed to flower are massive pollinator attractors.

The bees came in droves -- all kinds of bees, not only honey bees -- I mean big black carpenter bees, little shiny orchard mason bees, black-and-white-striped bees, bees that live in the ground, all kinds. Plus a great many other insect and bird pollinators. Plus more dragonflies!

And it just kept building like that, with the plants doing most of the work themselves. Now the place is like 'The Secret Garden" or something, always abuzz with bees and I'm quite sure that it's the nexus of bee activity in the neighborhood. In fact, it worked a little too well, with one colony of bees establishing itself inside my laundry room wall, haha! [but that was an anomaly]

We don't have an HOA, but an annoying neighbor did complain about the wildflowers one year, citing a dumb city ordnance prohibiting grass over six inches in height. The city came to inspect and basically said "uh yeah, we're not gonna issue a citation against a wildflower garden."

Lot size in my case is a quarter-acre, but I think based on observed results that a real impact can be made with almost any lot size. For reference, I broadcast about two pounds of seeds in total the first year, and usually "re-up" with a pound or so annually, depending on how things are looking. Overall, one of the most satisfying endeavors I've undertaken.

This happens in the ocean, too. There are places around my island which were turned into ecological reserves, and the result for surrounding habitats was incredibly positive. Not only does it help stabilize the ecosystem in the reserve, but it results in overflow for crowded species looking for new habitats, improves feeding opportunities for roaming predators, results in better vegetation growth in the general area, and more.

Recreational fishermen still get very upset about it despite how positive it is for fishing in waters that are still open. It seems like a decrease in fishing opportunities, but in reality the reserves function like wells of life for the surrounding ocean to draw upon. I'd love to see even more reserved established.

I think that humanity is going to look back and see pesticides and herbicides as one of the worst mistakes in history. It's slowly becoming clear just how damaging they are to the world's ecosystem. I urge everyone to stop using them, especially for absolutely needless things like killing dandelions and other vanity uses.

A number of people have mentioned varroa mites and the problems they cause for domestic and wild bee populations. For those interested mycologist Paul Stamets has been trialing the addition of polypore extract to bee food (water / sugar water) to boost their immune system. Results on smaller sample set (~100 hives) was near total eradication of the mites (I think broken wing disorder was diminished too). Next trial is on sample size of 10k+ hives.

Since domestic and wild bees comingle this should reduce transmission from domestic to wild bee populations, and hopefully give wild bees a chance to recover.

For those interested you’ll be able to find Stamets talking about this on YouTube in his talk “Into The Mycoverse”, and elsewhere, I’m sure.

Ha, I could have sworn this was a carefully worded joke -- Paul Stamets is the name of the mycologist on the new Star Trek series. Coincidence?

In this case art imitates life, not the other way around. I heard of Paul Stamets through Michael Pollen's book "how to change your mind" - Paul gave Michael his first psilocybin trip.

Not coincidence but a homage, and not the first one in the series. Hi, Dr. Spock.

Not a coincidence, the Star Trek character is named after the real life Paul.

Calling the Star Trek Stamets a mycologist is almost an understatement.

The first article I found discussed fungus extracts for virus treatment... I didn't see anything about mite eradication, but that would be a really big deal!


This may be a case where the mites are more of a symptom than a cause. Once the hive is healthy they may be able to deal with the mites on their own.

Genetics will play a massive part in this. In New Zealand mites are relatively new and bees die fast without treatment, however strong they are. Everyone who wants live hives treats 2x a year minimum and some are doing it up to 7x. If anyone is interested in new approaches, check out the (very long) thread on a local site that covers a novel way of applying oxalic acid. It is excellent and the guy driving has done masses of development in his rural shed. Broadly, it’s multiple layers of paper jointing tape (usually for use on plaster board joints) that are sewn together and soaked in a glycerine and oxalic acid mix. They are very cheap and seem very effective.



Your periodic reminders that:

1. Honey bees in North America are a non-native invasive species.

2. Virtually all honey bees in the United States are livestock.

3. Colony collapse disorder is an economic issue for commercial beekeepers, and apparently not much of a problem.

4. The true threat to honey bees in the United States isn't environment, but rather the introduction of the Varroa destructor mite in 1987 (which eradicated feral honey bees).

A "honey bee sanctuary" in the continental US is a weird idea.

About number 3, according to wikipedia [1]

> the total U.S. crop value that was wholly dependent on honey bee pollination was estimated to exceed $15 billion.


> honeybees perform some level of pollination of nearly 75% of all plant species directly used for human food worldwide.

Which sounds like a bit more than just beekeeping.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder#Econo...

> honeybees perform some level of pollination of nearly 75% of all plant species directly used for human food worldwide.

Bees pollinate 75% of species, but not 75% of calories. The major cereals (wheat, corn, rice) are all self or wind pollinating, as are number of other staples (e.g. potatoes, peas).

Thank you for pointing that out. I wouldn't have included it if I had realised the distinction.

Honey bees in the US are economically important despite not being a natural part of our ecosystem. But they're no more threatened in that role than CAFO pigs are. At its peak, "colony collapse" was (apparently; there are experts on HN who can break this out with precision) associated with low double digit overwintering losses, no meaningful increase in the price of new queens, and normal fluctuations in the price of pollination services.

It's also worth remembering that if your concern over bees is environmental and not economic, honey bees compete with native bees and also transmit pathogens to them. They're not entirely benign.

Is there some real figure which would give truth to the amount other insects would pollinate, if not honey bees? It seems like we have way too many insects in the world for the honey bee to be the only reliable pollinator.

Besides, aren't solitary bees supposed to be better pollinators?

As much as I like honey, I can't help but thinking there is a huge gap in logic with all of these people waving and screaming we aren't going to have food because of dwindling honey bee populations.

Realistically, the only plants which rely on honeybee pollination are from eastern europe, since that's where honeybees lived before the indo-european expansion.

So any plant that's say native to the new world (corn, beans, squash, tomatoes) must not rely on honeybees for pollination.

This is not to say that there's not a bee problem: non-honey bees suffer from habitat loss (and a lack of investment keeping them around).

The honeybee origin is African rainforests, there are a few of other honeybees species native from Asian rainforests also.

Some families of plants native of Europe use bees, other not. Is more about plant phylogeny than about geography. Similar species of flowers in other areas are quickly adopted by bees when available.

Solitary bees are specialized in small flowers like clover, and are territorial and well, solitary. In their niche are unbeatable, but can't compete with a healthy beehive if we talk about apples, pears, peaches, plums or cherries.

Mason bees are used to pollinate apple orchards.

Obviously, worth noting that the trees you're listing --- with the possible exception of plums --- are also non-native. Which doesn't make them bad, but does make this an industrial agriculture problem, not an environmental one. And industrial agriculture seems to have the honey bee maintenance problem basically under control.

Mason Japanese bees (Osmia cornifrons) are used to pollinate apple orchards. Non native.

Osmia lignaria is US native and used to pollinate almonds and orchards, but is not so common.

There are other mason bees native from USA like Osmia ribifloris but they pollinate manzanitas (a relative to Rhododendron), not manzanas (apples). They can pollinate blueberries also (that are in the same family as Manzanitas and share similarly shaped flowers).

That's helpful additional detail. I'm not anti-honey-bee! I just think this is an animal husbandry challenge (one commercial pollinators appear to have handled) and not an environmental crisis --- unlike, say, water.

One glaring problem I see with this is that anyone who has ever had hives (which my family has) knows how quickly Varroa mites can spread (the #1 killer of bees.) If all the bees are in a single location, that could wipe out every hive there. Would make more sense to me if you made sanctuaries that were spread on ~1 acre plots around a wide area (thinking several cities/town in a clustered area.)

Anyone with more expertise is free to correct me, but I feel like clustering bees on single plots, even 124 acres (which seems big, but is not really that big,) really has some risk if your end goal is to preserve the species.

Spreading bees out would not make a difference here. All hives have some level of varroa nowadays. The level depends on management techniques and not so much proximity to other hives with mites. Spreading hives out into 1 acre plots wouldn't do much when bees are foraging miles away from the hive, and would make it more difficult to visit each hive for maintenance.

There are worse diseases too - like American foul brood. The cure (by law) here in New Zealand is to pour petrol in the hive then burn it, even if it is in just one cell. It goes through an apiary fast, as bees rob out dead hives. The dream scenario is to have apiarys completly isolated from one another, but we are so overstocked here that this isn’t possible.

I've seen people calling him out the use of the word "sanctuary" and suggesting that this is really just sanctuary for taxes, not bees.

As a pre-emptive counterargument, there's nothing saying that all 124 acres of his ranch can or should host bees. There are tons of arguments for not wanting the hives near the house, other outbuildings, or anywhere animals are kept, for example. It may be that only 26 acres or so (assuming a 1:1 hive:acreage ratio) have flowering plants etc. that are hospitable to bees, even.

I've yet to see an argument for why using tax incentives to coerce good outcomes from people is even a bad thing

Because it can easily be corrupted since you can’t define “good outcome”, and it’s impossible to prosecute quid pro quo for a wink and nod deal since there isn’t sufficient evidence.

In a democracy, the government exists to provide a set of services agreed upon by the people for the benefit of all the people, many times via their elected representatives. Roads, educational facilities, welfare, military, all of those expenses don’t disappear because someone decided to donate something.

If you want tax dollars to support a cause, then vote for it. And there’s no reason tax deductions should be given to support your own little tribe.

> If you want tax dollars to support a cause, then vote for it.

This is literally what people have voted for by having tax deductions for certain "good" things, like giving to charity, using some of your land for bees or whatever.

Just because it's agreed that something should be done in the aggregate, doesn't mean that it needs to be centrally managed by some state agency. You decide X is wanted, and then leave the implementation to distributed decision making.

I think it's easier to hold fewer larger entities accountable, assuming we mandate transparency, than many small ones. Increasing complexity always benefits the seller (politicians and their influencers). Ideally, all tax receipts would go into one pot, and then all expenditures would come out of it, so it's simple to account for.

We have a system that enables "donations" to religious tribes in exchange for political support or politicians looting current taxpayers in exchange for future votes by kicking retiree benefit costs 30 years into the future (this is literally happening now).

All of these undesirable outcomes for society are only happening because the complexity creates plausible deniability and difficulty in accounting.

If people want to donate, let them donate, but it needs not having anything to do with taxes. We can save resources on enforcing tax laws, preparing tax filings, and obviously remove all this under the table stuff. Just like how electronic payments reduce tax fraud, only difference is we need total transparency.

Whether something is a worthwhile expenditure is a separate from the discussion about the implementation detail of it being supported directly through state funding, or indirectly via tax deductions.

E.g. in many EU countries religious organizations are directly funded through taxes. So in some way it comes down to the same thing, both systems have their ups & downs.

Doing it via tax deductions is often cheaper, because in many cases you can get people to match state dollars at some ratio, and since they get to choose what they fund within some framework they often get some benefit for themselves as well.

E.g. in this case Morgan Freeman gets to walk around on his private land covered in bees which'll be partially state funded. The government didn't need to buy land somewhere just for this purpose.

Instead they find someone who's willing to do this not just for the tax benefit, but also because they for whatever reason don't mind a lot of bees on their land.

So Freeman gets a tax write-off, less money is spent overall for the same amount of bees in the ecosystem, it's a win-win.

In a healthy economic structure, most of the power would be in the middle class (i.e. the distribution of economic power is a bell curve). If we had that instead of the current power law distribution, then tax incentives would work simply because they would directly reflect with will of the people: The fat part of the curve—representing the average—would be able to out-vote and out-spend everyone else.

Trying to control the behavior of giants that are smarter and stronger is probably hopeless, so our focus should be on getting the economy back to normal (pardon the pun).

Wasn't this voted on? There must be some existing program he is enrolling into. That didn't come from nothing, it would have been developed and voted on by elected representatives.

Yes, it was voted on in the same way, but I'm trying to say that it's adding unnecessary complexity. In my ideal future, it would be nice to see a much more simplified, transparent government.

> Roads, educational facilities, welfare, military, all of those expenses don’t disappear because someone decided to donate something.

They also wouldn't disappear if Morgan Freeman had decided to volunteer his labor for a foundation for free - thereby not earning any taxable income - yet the State would have to work it out. In this case, the labor donation was just done indirectly.

The point is that you can't tell if it was a donation, or if it was something else. Just like a donation to a certain non profit organization isn't just a donation, but buying votes, or in exchange for some other favor.

The incentive to donate should be wanting to donate, there doesn't need to be anything on top of that from the government.

You can't tell if unpaid volunteer work is a donation either, yet it's not taxed.

Maybe, in this scenario, if there were a tax on the insecticides that are killing off the bees in the first place, I would be more excited. Instead we have insecticides being made for profit killing bees, and I’m paying for the privilege as a spectator.

The typical argument is that "tax incentives", whether positive or negative, ultimately come from other people's hard work and money. And those people may not agree with you (the benevolent distributor of incentives) on what "good outcomes" are.

TL;DR: People have their own, often highly idiosyncratic ideas about what's worthwhile and how they want to spend their money.

>And those people may not agree with you (the benevolent distributor of incentives)

I was under the impression that in a democracy there was no single BDFL.

And how does that change the explanation, "People have their own, often highly idiosyncratic ideas about what's worthwhile and how they want to spend their money.", one way or another?

I remember a similar item about Bruce Springsteen calling his mansion a farm (to get lower tax rates.)

The stories about Springsteen seemed credible. I hope Morgan Freeman is on the level, though.

Michael Dell has a 'nature preserve' for deer that just so happens to be the few hundred acres surrounding his house.

This of course qualifies for the agriculture exemption on Texas property taxes, so a piece of property that he spent $70M purchasing is paying taxes as if it's worth $290,000. Quite the system we have when the public subsidizes people like Michael Dell for $1m/year on this property alone:


This article is a bit superficial. CCD is more than just pesticides killing bees. The invasive varroa mite is likely a big factor. It’s a good thing that he is taking care of bees. The solution might be more complex than sanctuaries though— IE how can we reduce the mite population?

Potential CCD Causes According to EPA:

... researchers who are leading the effort to find out why are now focused on these factors: Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees). New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema. Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control. Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services. Changes to the habitat where bees forage. Inadequate forage/poor nutrition. Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.

Well, one of the theories is that pesticides weaken bees and make them more vulnerable to varroa mites and other parasites, diseases etc. (the "potential immune-suppressing stress" in your quote).

Once you get on top of varroa it is amazing how fast a hive grows. It seems to take a while for other problems to subside (sac brood, deformed wing virus etc) and a requeening seems to be required sometimes. I’ve been using a variation on the Randy Oliver method with oxalic acid and it’s bring the varroa down fast when used. Weekly counts of varroa on a cup of bees has been (averaged) 15, 12, 8, 4, then 1 or 2 last weekend. The behaviour of the hives has changed too, and they are more settled (or as settled as can be, mid robbing season).

I like bees, but aren't they effectively an invasive species too?

When temperatures increased, fauna and habitat changed drastically, causing the extinction of Apis in the New World until they were reintroduced by European settlers in 1622 (Engel et al. 2009).


European honey bees are an "introduced species"[1], but this doesn't in itself make them an "invasive species"[2]. To be labeled invasive, they also have to be causing harm to their new ecosystem. While there might be some ways that honey bees are harmful[3], they aren't usually considered invasive.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduced_species

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_species

[3] https://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/16-067_02_...

Depends upon what bee specific species and where. "Honey bees" (genus Apis) alone comprise several species which may or may not be considered invasive. In the particular case of the linked UMich paper, Apis mellifera (note: species mellifera, the Western/European Honey Bee) is definitely an invasive species to North America.

This says nothing of the, arguably more important, wild bee population, e.g. bumble bees (genus Bombus) ...


What about those "africanized" honey bees in the news a decade or so back?

Is this website a source we can trust? I've looked at a couple other articles and it looked a bit sketchy.

You can just google the headline and you will find a Forbes article about it.

It's an article on "Forbes sites", though. It's the equivalent of sort-of-trusted bloggers. Seems Forbes really don't care about their online brand anymore.

Personally, I would see who the writer on Forbes is, rather than just dismiss the entire Forbes website.

For example, I read articles published on Forbes by "Starts With a Bang" (an astrophysicists) and "GrrlScientist" (a biologist) because I have read their articles previously published from other sites before they moved to Forbes and enjoy what they write.

This particular author seems to just be starting out on their career. I could only find 2 other articles authored by them on the internet. The article itself is pretty light and is mostly quoting twitter and pre-existing interviews on on a talk show.

Can you trust it? Hmmm... Well, you could check up the Twitter postings to see if they are real :-). Not sure if there is much to trust...

🇺🇸 I met Morgan Freeman at a screening of Bucket List in DC.

I asked him if we could play Rock Paper Scissors.

He said he didn’t know how. So I taught him.

He then told me what he was going to throw. I told him he shouldn’t do that.

Then I beat him.

So I both taught and beat Morgan Freeman at Rock Paper Sissors.

Fun story. Btw, is that an emoji? Thought they were stripped from input.

I thought so too, but for some reason a few aren’t. I posted about it yesterday.


Ok, looks like some unicode blocks such as flags are not stripped.

🇯🇵 Cool

🛶 as Terrance McKenna said “Build your own damn boat.”

First time seeing an emoji here. Nice.

124 acres doesn't seem all that giant, not even a half mile squared. Maybe I'm reading "Giant Bee Sanctuary" wrong. Is it a sanctuary for Giant Bees[0]?

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19221337

Without knowing the median size of current bee sanctuaries it's impossible to say how 124 acres ranks. Perhaps the typical bee sanctuary is less than an acre.

For those who were wondering:

124 acres =~ 0.5 square km or 50 hectar

so pretty big

Pretty big is relative. Sure, that's pretty big relative to suburban plots that are more likely to be in the 1/2 to 2 acre range. But it's not huge once you get even moderately rural; my two neighbors and I are on about 75 acres collectively. And it's actually pretty small relative to, say, many ranches out West.

Bees can forage up to about 5km but generally stay within about 3km, in case that interests anyone. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forage_(honey_bee)

This website ... Normally I wouldn't complain but really isn't there a better source?

James Hetfield (singer of Metallica) has also become a part-time beekeeper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrFdI8U9Ri4

Is it safe to live in a sanctuary for giant bees?

In my experience bees don't really mess with you unless you try to (or accidentally) mess with their nest.

I think GP was making a joke based on the ambiguous wording of the headline. ;)

FWIW though, we have a hive in our back garden and the bees don't bother us or the neighbours at all.

Dosing them with honey works in my experience. I’m up early with lights on and it’s the end of the season (meaning lots of bees with little to productive work to do). They are pinging off the window next to me.

It's up to the wealthy to save us helpless souls now

That’s the end result of crony capitalism, baby.

I believe that is to get the tax break by classifying the land as agricultural ? Scarlet Johnson, Bon Jovi and many have been doing this for years.

Of course I wouldn't care about motives, if it ends up protecting bees why not.

Is this for honeybees?? I hope its for native bees because why would you create a sanctuary for what is basically an agricultural animal like cow or sheep.

Why not both? Native bees can live alongside honeybees quite happily.

You need to look after the honey bee. You’ll go hungry without it.

It is for his honeybees

Giant Bees!

Get beesy living or get busy dying.

Hive numbers are on a steep increase in New Zealand. In 10 years we have more than doubled the number. Honey prices are falling for beekeepers though, so many are expecting a bit of an industry crash.

Our wild bees are not doing so well. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/01/31/79714/the-dark-side-of... https://www.airborne.co.nz/statistics/new-zealand.shtml

Is the wild bee population also increasing, or is the increase due to the beekeeping "industry" (as it is termed in your [1])?

Nobody knows. But most crop pollination is performed by wild bee species that are common, not threatened or endangered.


For an acerbic look at the "... but wild bees" argument, see:


That's nice, but none of those articles address wild populations.

The original article is about Morgan Freeman keeping honeybees, in case you didn't read it.

Nice people on all sides.

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