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Hey guys, I have an offer to keep bees on a couple golf courses, but I always assumed they sprayed heavily for mosquitos and applied pesticides to the greens and fairways. And assumed it would nuke any hives.

I looked online and it looks like at least a few people have put hives on golf courses. Anyone have any experience with this?

Thanks!
 

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I play a course this summer that the rough was all wild pollinator plants. I thought it would be great place for bees.

From their web site:
Eastman Golf Links was designated a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary on December 15, 2015. That takes teamwork, time and commitment. One of only four such facilities in NH, and 893 in the world (there are 33,000+ golf courses on the planet). This is an amazing accomplishment. The process started in the summer of 2009. This certification speaks to the leadership of Billy Mitchell, Golf Course Superintendent at Eastman, and his team
 

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This may not be directly helpful but I'll add this. A few years back I kept a few hives on the roof of the bank I worked for. From the spot that the hives rested I could see a lot of land and, in particular, an 18 hole golf course that started 6 blocks from the bank. To be honest, it never occurred to me to worry about the course. I knew there was a lot of suburbia around the bank which included home gardens, well tended lots, a cemetery, a large lake, etc. All within easy foraging distance of the colonies. Those hives were heavy producers. Early ones too compared to my home hives (38 miles away). I never had problems SO FAR AS I COULD TELL. That's not to say I wasn't just lucky...or that I had SOME problems but didn't know about it or even that the bees foraged much on the course. And naturally, there are lots of chemicals found in backyards and lawns and in office parks. All that said, I would probably take the advice above and talk to the grounds staff; think (and worry) about placement, access and presentation and then decide from there. Golf courses aren't just covered with grass. Most have an amazing amount of diverse plants that bees would love. Good luck!
 

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Branman,

I'm a golf course superintendent of a 280 acre property. We have been keeping bees for 3 years. I currently have 8 hives and 6 nucs. We have created 40 plus acres of prairie, woodlands and wetlands over the past 25 years. We also leave clover and dandelions on approximately an additional 50 acres of turf. We were designated a certified wildlife sanctuary golf course by Audubon International in 1993 and still maintain that designation. We don't use insecticides except on the fine turf areas which the bees don't forage on. We are surrounded by residential areas. I'm more worried about what homeowners are spraying in their gardens than about what we spray on the playing surfaces. Our staff is trained and licensed to purchase and apply pesticides by the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture. Homeowners can purchase and apply the same pesticides as us but don't have any training.

There are a lot of golf courses that are committed to protecting the environment in a sustainable way. These are a couple of current programs many golf courses are participating in.

https://www.auduboninternational.org/acspgolf

https://www.auduboninternational.org/page-1863480
 

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We've had a good experience this summer managing an apiary on a local golf course. The country club is basically creating a nature preserve with walking trails, etc., on a fairly large part of their property. The site is very beautifully with plenty of forage, water, etc. The management wanted an apiary as part of the preserve, so we setup four colonies based on 5 frame nucs this spring. The bees have done fantastic over the summer, and they ended up with surplus honey.

The management in this particular situation were quite interested in the bees succeeding. We encouraged them to have their grounds people do any pesticide, etc. applications during the evenings after the bees were done flying. We monitored the colonies carefully for mites, etc. and experienced no bee kill like others have reported on golf courses. We also mentored one of their people who participated in every hive inspection, honey harvest, etc. They were great people to work with, and overall it has been a very successful project.

My guess is that experiences on golf courses will vary, based on the forage available and how interested the folks running the golf course are in the bees success.
 

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Just saying. I have been aware of a feral hive in a 5' diameter trunk cedar tree on a golf course that I have annually gotten swarms from into my baithive. Point being, all the sprays that course uses does not kill that feral hive.
 

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Top on my list is ease of access (with car), distance from home or other hives and available forage.

I golf and many of the courses I play would fail to meet forage, just too much grass. Ide say the worst are the ones in housing subdivisions, everybody has sterile grass lawns. There's no diverse land for miles.

My hives in old urban areas with a large diversity of forage and lack of grass lawn deserts do the best.
 
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