While golfers at Broken Sound Club focus on hitting holes in one, club managers are concentrating on helping hives.
Concerned about the impact of sudden bee die-offs, the club 18 months ago set up its first hive. It now has 22 on two golf courses and plans to add 15 more by 2018.
“We’re trying to drive more awareness to the plight of the bees,” said John Crean, the club’s general manager. “They’re dying off.”
There have been no reported stings since the hives were first installed, Crean said. But Broken Sound’s 1 million bees have given the community more than 1,000 pounds of honey per year.
It can be found in the club’s food, cocktails and spa treatments. The club also jars honey and gives it to its members for free.
Environmentalists for years have been monitoring the sudden and widespread disappearances of adult honey bees from beehives in the U.S.
From April 2014 through April 2015, 42.1 percent of bees died. That’s up 34.2 percent from the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“One in three mouthfuls of what we eat is dependent upon these pollinators,” Crean said. “Plants, fruits, vegetables — they’re all pollinated by bees. We can help protect the bees and help figure out why bees are collapsing.”
The club’s goal is to educate people about the advantages of installing hives. It’s part of a larger sustainability initiative in which the club has already made strides by using reclaimed water, operating a compost site and adding birdhouses and a butterfly garden.
The club carefully chose each of the seven bee locations, said Sierra Malnove, the club’s beekeeper.
A white picket fence surrounds each of the locations, which abut wildflower gardens. Each location holds two to four hives, and each hive can house 60,000 bees.
“The bees are free to come and go as they want,” Malnove said. “Worker bees will travel two to five miles to forage for food.”
Malnove abstains from using chemicals to treat the hives, which are registered with the state. The bees are positioned to face away from the golfers, so the golfers can see the bees without agitating them.
“It’s inspiring to have someone in the community who is putting bees with people who wouldn’t interact with them otherwise,” Malnove said. “The golfers are happy, and the bees are happy.”
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