Monday, May 2, 2016

The Bees Knees

I've always viewed my career as a Golf Course Superintendent as; part grower of grass, part artist, and part environmental steward. At Highlands Falls, the environment is just as much a part of the golf course as are the greens. It has become a part of our daily operation to look upon and appreciate the mountainsides of blooming rhododendron and mountain laurel, a momma bear and her cubs, and hundreds of honey bees flying about the many gardens throughout the property. It is easy to recognize the “big players” as it pertains to the environment, but it’s the little ones, like the bees, that help invigorate the landscape with an abundance of color throughout the season.

You may or may not know that honey bee populations are on the decline throughout the U.S. due to what is being called 'Colony Collapse'. It is here that we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the landscape on the golf course to preserve and improve honey bee and other pollinator populations, while enhancing the visual appearance of the course.

New this year, on hole #14 across the river, we have set up several beehives. The goal is to improve the landscape throughout the Club by encouraging the pollinators. Additionally, the hives are a great barometer of the environment and of our management practices. The total cost and time investment is very small on our part as the bees do most of the work. It is my hope, in the near future, as the bees begin to thrive, that we will be able to sell the honey from our hives here at the Club.

While managing honey bees at HFCC is new, it is a growing trend within the golf industry. Many high end clubs have taken on this practice as a means of demonstrating to the general public that golf courses can coexist with the environment in a very productive manner.

In future newsletter articles, I will update you on how our new endeavor is progressing and share with you some unique facts and pictures about our honey bees. Last, and most importantly, it is necessary to house the apiary (a collection of beehives) behind an electrified fence in order to keep the bears away. We ask everyone to please keep clear of this area for their own safety.