By Jan Norris

Bee hives are fenced off on the Broken Sound Golf Course.

Bee hives are fenced off on the Broken Sound Golf Course, but golfers know they’re there.

If there are potential pests on a country club’s golf course, the first thing the groundskeepers do is remove them.

In the case of Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton, however, they are welcoming nature as it comes.

In an effort to expand their natural gardening and enhance a butterfly area, the garden club at Broken Sound called in Al Salopec, a bee expert in West Palm Beach, to find out how to attract bees. When they heard more about the plight of the honeybee, and the insect’s impact on food and plants, they decided to go all out and keep beehives on site.

Bees Sierra Malnove

Sierra Malnove is the official beekeeper for the country club.

That’s how Sierra Malnove, Salopec’s partner, became the official Broken Sound beekeeper. She maintains a bee colony that’s directly on the main golf course, and tends them sometimes twice a month in season.

“We have six hives now; we’ll bring in 10 more – eight on the main course and two on the old course – for a total of 16.”

Though kept behind an 8-feet-square picket fence that’s screened with plants, the hives are visible to golfers and others who are well aware of the hives.

“There’s a lot of interest in them from club members,” she said. “When I go onto the course, I drive on the course in a golf cart with my stuff, and I have my bee suit on. They (golfers) ask how the bees are doing and want to know more,” she said. She’s shown them a queen bee, explained how they swarm and are caught and transferred to hives, and opened the working hives for them to see the honey in the cells.

The kitchen and some of the club members who ask get the honey that Malnove collects.

The landscapers have become involved as well as the garden club, planting wildflowers, along with specific bushes and trees that help feed the bees. They’re careful with any pesticides used.

Broken Sound Country Club is progressive in its movement to be more “green,” Malnove said, so is in harmony with the bees.

“They compost all the landscaping trimmings and leftover food from the restaurant in a $500,000 composter on the property and use recirculated water for irrigation. They use the compost on the golf course and in flower beds and landscaping; it cuts down on the amount of fertilizer they use,” she said.

Malnove said it’s a win-win for all, and hopes that beekeeping on golf courses could one day be a trend with big benefits by fostering more bees. “I think it will take off,” she said. “There are a lot of golf courses here.”

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To read more about beekeeping in South Florida, pick up the Spring 2015 issue of Florida Food & Farm.