Why Bees Might Be the Bees’ Knees
The Benefits and Hazards of Bees on Your Property
In the public eye, bees are often viewed as pests, or even as full-blown villains. Allergies aside, some people think of them as a flying frustration while others are simply downright terrified of bees. But the truth is, bees are an essential part of the ecosystem. Without bees, we wouldn’t have hundreds of the crops we consume every day. In short, we need bees.
But that’s on the big scale. How do bees affect your golf courses, lawns, and other landscaped areas? Let’s look into it.
According to the National Resource Defense Council, the national bee population has been dropping since 2006. In fact, they estimate that “nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the United States have vanished.” This doesn’t only result in a shortage of honey, but a lot of other crops too. Bees are pollinators, and they help produce crops such as apples, oranges, onions, broccoli, avocados, and many others.
This decrease in the bee population is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Although many organizations are conducting research on the root causes of it, no direct “smoking guns” have been identified yet. That’s the not-so-good news. However, the good news is that bees are beneficial, and there are ways that you as a turf professional can be a part of the solution.
For golf course superintendents, one solution is to set up a bee apiary on your property. You can learn more about how to start an apiary in this GCSAA article, but here are a few quick tips:
- Start with 2-3 bee hives
- Keep it well out of play
- Make sure it’s fenced off and clearly marked
- Give it its own water source (to keep bees from using you ponds or swimming pools)
- Make sure the hives get a lot of direct sunlight
If your next question is “well how does this help my golf course?”, we’ve got that, too.
First and foremost, the environmental health of your course will improve. Bees are natural pollinators, and they’ll help plants grow throughout your golf course.
“Sustainability” is a big buzzword (no pun intended) these days, and if you’re proactively helping foster the bee population on your course, people will notice. If you choose to promote these efforts, they will serve as a differentiator among your competition.
Show Me The Honey
As referenced in the previous GCSAA article, the bees produce excess honey that you can sell. It’s a natural and unique source of revenue, especially if you brand it as “golf course honey”.
In the end, it’s all about keeping an eye on the bigger picture of how our businesses affect the environment. While these proactive measures relate more directly to golf courses, all turf professionals could stand to learn more on how to coexist with bees.
Not everyone agrees, though. Some professionals are too concerned about the potential nuisance of the bees, stinging, and the time dedication to keeping an ideal bee environment. Those are all fair objections, but research and case studies have shown the ability for bees and turf care professionals to live in harmony.
For more information about LebanonTurf, our products or how to improve the quality of your turf, visit our website.