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March 13, 2023

Honey Bees and Golf At The University of Georgia with Jennifer Berry and Scott Griffith (S5, E39)

Honey Bees and Golf At The University of Georgia with Jennifer Berry and Scott Griffith (S5, E39)

Close your eyes and think of a gold course. We’re pretty sure that when you think of the landscape and maintenance of a typical golf course, with lots trim flat greens, schedules of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals - a beeyard...


Close your eyes and think of a gold course. We’re pretty sure that when you think of the landscape and maintenance of a typical golf course, with lots trim flat greens, schedules of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals - a beeyard just doesn’t fit, right?

Jennifer Berry and Scott Griffith of the University of Georgia, are working to change that vision. They’ve placed a hive at the very first tee on the university’s golf course, in Athens, Georgia.

Jennifer, a grad student at the University and a researcher at the UGA Bee Lab, and Scott, Director of Agronomy and golf course Supervisor, are working to set a standard to use the tracts of land around golf courses, bee and pollinator friendly.

They are starting to make it happen.

Scott is spreading the word to every golf course in the US about how to keep both golfers and honey bees safe, what they should be planting to help bees stay healthy, and what they shouldn’t be doing with all of the chemicals golf courses use. The next step is working with an organization that could certify a golf course as being recognized as Bee Friendly, with guidelines, and standards that if followed, minimized, or better, kept bees truly safe, and well fed.

Listen now and see out if your golf course can be a part of this program, and what you can do to help………FORE!!!

Also on this episode, Ed Colby returns with another story from his book, “A Beekeeper’s Life: Tales from the Bottom Board”. The book is a collection of 60 of his best columns from Bee Culture. In this episode, Ed’s bee truck breaks down in Steamboat Springs, Colorado! Listen to hear how he gets out of this high mountain town. You can order signed copies of Ed’s book for $25.00. Contact him directly at coloradobees1@gmail.com for your copy!

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura

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This episode is brought to you by Global PattiesGlobal PattiesGlobal offers a variety of standard and custom patties. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com

We welcome HiveAlive back as an episode sponsor. HiveAlive is the #1 liquid feed supplement for honeybees worldwide.  It contains a unique blend of seaweed extracts, thyme and 
lemongrass proven to increase bee strength, produce more honey, improved bee gut health and improved overwinter survival. Ask about HiveAlive and new HiveAlive Fondant & Pollen Patty at your local beekeeping store or visit the website www.usa.hivealivebees.com for more information. Listeners of the podcast can claim a special discount online using the code "BTP" at the checkout!

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their support. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry.

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We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; A Fresh New Start by Pete Morse; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Copyright © 2023 by Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC

Transcript

S5, E39 – Honey Bees and Golf At The University of Georgia with Jennifer Berry and Scott Griffith

[music]

Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey, Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.

Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.global patties.com.

Jeff: Thank you, Sherry, and thanks to Bee Culture for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American Beekeeping since 1873. A quick thanks to all of our sponsors whose support enables us to bring you this podcast each week without resorting to a fee-based subscription. We don't want that and we know you don't either.

Make sure to check out all of our other content on our website. There, you can read up on all of our guests, read our blog on various aspects and observations about beekeeping, search for, download, and listen to over 200 past episodes, read episode transcripts, [chuckles] leave comments and feedback on each show, and check on podcast specials from our sponsors. You can find it all at www.beekeepingtodaypodcast.com. Hey, everybody. Thanks again for joining the show. Kim will be along in just a few minutes.

How would you like to give us a hand? We're looking to start the show in a different way in the coming weeks, and we would like to include you and your fellow listeners. Okay? This is how you can help us out. Record yourself opening the show using your cell phone or whatever you can use. Say, "Hey, everybody. This is Jeff from Olympia, Washington, and I want to welcome you to Beekeeping Today Podcast." Well, you wouldn't say my name, of course. You'd say your name and your town and your state.

Here's another great idea. At your next beekeeper meeting, get together with everybody and open the show as one group. Something like, "Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast from the Olympia Beekeepers Association." Just make sure your recording is clear and understandable and something you'd be proud of for thousands of beekeepers around the world to hear. Simply email your opening to questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com and listen for your opening in a future episode.

We have a great show lined up for you today, including Ed Colby who's stuck in Steamboat Springs. It's a great tale and I'm sure you will enjoy it. For our main talk today, we are talking with Jennifer Berry and Scott Griffith of the University of Georgia. They're here to talk about their golf and bees project. Golf and bees, that doesn't seem to go well together, does it? It's like oil and vinegar, but you'd be surprised. It's a great subject and at the end, you'll have another great idea for a bee yard.

As promised, up first is Ed Colby with a story from his book, A Beekeeper's Life. Tales from the Bottom Board. Ed's book is an attractive paperback collection of over 60 of Ed's best bee culture columns, along with photos. He has signed copies available. Check the show notes for details.

[music]

Ed Colby: I go up to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to chase bees. It takes me about three days to make my rounds. I sleep in the bee yards then I head back to the honey house in Meeker and back home to the farm in New Castle. A total of about three and a half hours from Steamboat, the way I go. I love my 1983 Ford one-ton honeybee truck, even if it's ugly and even if that 460 engine does like to drink gas. Let's not talk about gas mileage, but heading up the hill out of Steamboat toward Clark the other day, the beast up and died. It did this without warning or provocation. I coasted to a ranch driveway and pulled off.

Now any combustion engine needs two things, fuel and spark. I disconnected the gas line at the carburetor and turned the key. Then I appeared under the hood. Gasoline was boiling on top of the engine. This didn't strike me as a good time to check for spark. Everything in my ignition system was brand new except for the coil. That being the electromagnet that intensifies the spark that burns the gas and the control module, the mini-computer that regulates ignition. I didn't think about the control module right then. I haven't owned this truck very long and I'm not much of a mechanic. To be perfectly honest, I didn't know I had a control module.

It was 4:45 in the afternoon on Saturday and I decided to call an auto parts store pronto and buy a coil. I had to do something even if it was wrong. When I walked up to the ranch barn to use the phone, the Texan ranch owner said, "It's probably your timing chain. They'll have to tear your engine apart." He seemed to take pleasure in telling me this. Over the phone, the lady at the auto parts store said she'd leave the coil in a plastic bag hanging on the bumper of the trailer outside because they were closing. Afterward, the ranch owner said, "It's not your coil. It might be your control module, but it's probably your timing chain."

"Well, can you recommend a good mechanic in Steamboat?" I asked. "I can't," he said, "because there aren't any You'd have to go to Craig. You can't get anything done in this town." At this point, I called Esther and threw myself at her mercy. "Esther, rescue me," I said. "I'll be there in 10 minutes," she said. Esther and I go way back, although I never really knew her that well. She's the daughter of my very old and very dear friend Granny who, in my youth, taught me to smoke and cuss. Granny kept telling me how to look up Esther in Steamboat this summer, and I had meant to, but you know how it is.

Now I felt a little awkward calling her simply because I needed help. I wished I'd made a social call first, taking her to lunch, whatever. Esther put me in her grandkid's bedroom downstairs. I slept in one of those narrow little kids' beds. The room was full of toys. "You can sleep with a teddy if you want," Esther said. The next morning over coffee and eggs I got her laughing, which is something I can sometimes make people do. She loaned me her car. I installed the new coil, but the truck still wouldn't start. I managed to shock myself twice testing for spark so I knew I had it.

Now, the only thing between the repair shop and me was a control module. After I bolted on a new one, I was almost afraid to turn the key because this was my last glimmer of hope and I had a sinking feeling. Occasionally things do go my way, however. The engine started right up. Earlier, when I didn't really think I'd get on the road that day, I made plans to lunch with my old ski patrol buddy Wilbur. Now with the truck fixed and after nearly a week on the road, I was itching to finish up with my bees and head for home. I can be self-centered and in fact, that is my nature, but this one time I put a friend first.

You're probably wondering if I had honey supers on the truck and the answer is yes. Fortunately, there was a honey flow, so robbing bees didn't plague the supers while I was parked in a stranger's driveway. This could have complicated things immensely, especially if I'd needed to get towed to a garage. My tail has a silver lining. No robbers and the whole adventure only cost me $100.

Well, maybe a couple 100, and I got to renew two old friendships. How big a disaster is that? Plus, now I've replaced everything in my truck's ignition system. If it quits on me again, I'll know it has to be the timing chain. A week to the day later, on a Saturday evening, I lost a duly wheel hauling three tons of honey through Craig. This time another friend bailed me out and the weekend cost me a lot more than $200, but that's another story.

[music]

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[music]

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Jeff: While you're at the Strong Microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive, their regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey, everybody. Welcome back. Sitting across the virtual Zoom table are Jennifer Berry and Scott Griffith, both from the University of Georgia, here to talk about bees and golf, or golf and bees, whatever your priority is. Welcome, Jennifer and Scott to the show.

Scott Griffith: Thank you.

Jennifer Berry: Thank you.

Jeff: Jennifer and Scott, it's good to meet you. I'm going to get to what your relationship is with your Golf Course. I got to tell you, golf and bees just don't seem to go together to me. [laughs] How does that work?

Scott: I get that all the time. That's actually the first question I usually receive when people ask me about the bees hive is why. I've gotten to the point where I'm just saying, why not?

Jeff: Jennifer, can you introduce Scott to the people listening today so we know what he's up to at that Golf Course?

Jennifer: Scott is the Director of Agronomy for the University of Georgia Golf Course. I'll let him explain a little bit more about his background.

Scott: I've been in the golf business for 25 years, the last 16 years at the University of Georgia. My position title just recently changed from Golf Course Superintendent to Director of Agronomy and that just means that I now have a Golf Course Superintendent who works underneath me. I'm also a past president of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association, past winner of the Superintendent of the Year Award, the Environmental Leaders and Golf Award, the President's Award, and also just recently elected Board of Director for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America which has 19,000 members worldwide.

Jeff: When you think about all the Golf Courses, it seems like it'd be a wonderful mix to put beehives along the Golf Courses. I'm not a golfer, so I don't know the right terminology, so feel free to correct me. I could see that happening.

Scott: It's a great place for bees, not only bees for pollinator plots, and most Golf Courses have out-of-the-way areas places that are not in play so there's a lot of opportunities to do those things. You just need champions. Golf Course superintendents are usually those people that get behind these projects and like to see them come to fruition. Let's be honest here. Golf has had a perception issue for a long time, and it's one of the things we focus on, on a national level is getting the word out and the truth about what we do and trying to dispel the misconceptions that we have about golf in general.

The bees have allowed us to do that. It's been such a great conversation starter for me, with individuals, especially those that are looking at me from the putting green when I'm near the hive and they're like, "That dude is going to get stung." It gives me a chance to communicate and it puts us out there where we can tell people about the great things that we do.

Jennifer: If I may interject on what he was saying about the misconception of Golf and Golf Courses, when Scott reached out to me and said, "Hey, I'm Scott. I'm at the Golf Course here at UGA and I want to put beehives on the Golf Course," I was like, "Absolutely not. Are you crazy?" Because again, what did I think? Pesticides, all the things they're using will kill the bees.

He immediately switched my focus. He was like, "General of this is not the case at all." Anyway, like you were saying and I'm really happy that Scott reached out to us, and he's doing this because we need to get this information out and educate. Not only are we educating people about Golf Courses, but we're educating the golfers about bees, which, to me, is our whole emission at the UGAB or the University of George Bee lab.

Jeff: I'm glad you brought this up because I know of our beekeeping listeners, 90% of them probably even before they listen to this episode, were thinking, "Oh, my God, why are they putting bees on a Golf Course? Everybody knows how much pesticides and fertilizers are on that Golf Course. It's going to kill the bees." I'm glad we're talking about it now. Let's get this out of the way. Why is that not an issue?

Scott: You mentioned pesticide and fertilizer... There's a large misconception about how much we use and what we use and how we use it. First of all, let me say this, we're some of the most highly trained applicators in the world. We have state of the art of equipment. I have a GPS player that I use that can put it within 6 inches of where it needs to be. Most of the products that are used are only on a limited basis so usually only used on greens.

You're only treating a very small percentage of the Golf Course. Only about 5% or less than 10% of the Golf Course is getting treated a lot of times. The amount of fertilizers, listen, we have budgets. We want to make money. We don't want to be using fertilizer. Not many of us have that kind of money to be doing those kind of things. We use polymer code fertilizer, slow release fertilizers. We fund research on the backside of things to show that we're good stewards of the land.

There's a lot of misconceptions out there and that's why I'm excited to talk to you guys because it gives us an opportunity to tell that story, which is, that's the hardest part sometimes is being able to have an opportunity to tell the story.

Kim: Scott, you mentioned that you had work that you were using it for education. Who are you teaching and what are you teaching these people about bees and is that where Jennifer gets a part of this?

Scott: That's where Jennifer came in. For that education event that we had, we had an indoor education and an outdoor hands-on educational component of that. I basically turned it over to Jennifer and I let her choose what she felt like we needed to know as Golf Course Superintendents. I really left that up to her. She's the professional on that side of things, but our participation for that event was we sell out that event every year.

I was amazed at how many Golf Course superintendents that we had that were interested. Also, it made me laugh a little bit when all of them were twinkle toe up there because they were all scared of getting stung. By the end of it, it was really neat to see them relax a little bit and taking in the information that Jennifer was providing them.

Kim: It sounds like underneath, you're trying to get these guys to do the same thing. You're trying to get more bees and more Golf Courses. Am I right?

Scott: You are correct. We want our members and our fellow superintendents to use it as a moment to get the word out not only about how Golf Courses are safe environments for wildlife and pollinators and honey bees, but it's also to get a chance to talk about honeybees and the problems that they have and bring awareness to honeybees in general. I work with Jennifer and we created a sign that we put out near our hive that has about six or seven quick facts on it about honeybees.

We also put a QR code on there too, which links to the UGA bee lab as well too, in case anybody needed any more information about it. It's just bringing awareness to honeybees into Golf Courses and how they relate.

Kim: Scott, I got two questions, but first I want to go over to Jennifer and let her give the people listening a little bit of background. You're with the University of Georgia Bee Lab, right, Jennifer? What are you up to there right now?

Jennifer: A multitude of projects. We have been working with Dalan. I'm sure some of your listeners, or you have heard about the honey bee vaccine.

Jeff: Maybe a few. [laughs]

Jennifer: We're very excited to be working with them, and last year we did procedural work for them to get the USDA approval for the vaccine. This year we're doing more efficacy work with them. That's a project. We've got a grad student that's working on small high beetles. We're continuing with our oxalic acid application trying to hone in on what's the best way to use oxalic acid in controlling Varroa.

We'll be published in a paper hopefully when I can get it written or hopefully going to publish that in the next couple of months. Basically, we found that when we applied a brood break to during our summer months that we were actually able to reduce Varroa Mite populations. We are very excited about giving that information out. Back in school, we're teaching a course now. Beekeeping and Pollinator Conservation Course. It's a 3,000-level course. Was geared towards non-majors, but science majors have really taken hold on it. It's become one of the most popular courses in the College of AG right now. We're going from 72 students this past semester to 300 students in the fall.

Kim: You're going to need an auditorium for that.

Jennifer: They're putting us in an auditorium, which is little intimidating, but I'm very excited. Bees are such a hot topic right now and this is the time for us to really strike educationally and through science to get people aware of the importance. Yes, the class is great. That's why I'm back in school getting the PhD because I want to be able to teach it. I'm teaching it now, but I'm not really the professor on record. You got to have that PhD in order to get any kind of acknowledgment. Yes, we're still-- I'm doing a lot of extension and just trying to keep the lab afloat basically.

Jeff: For the listeners who aren't familiar with you and haven't read your articles, you are well-versed and long history and beekeeping and bees.

Jennifer: Yes. [laughs] I've been a beekeeper since 1997 and I've been running the bee lab since 2000. What? 23 years now. Wow.

[laughter]

Jeff: Oh, my gosh. [laughs]

Jennifer: Yes, I know. It's like, what? I can't imagine doing anything else. When I took the first course in bees and beekeeping, I'm like, "I want to do this for the rest of my life." I have been given the great opportunity to do it, and so I don't go to work.

Jeff: There you go. That's a great way to look at it. Hey, this is a great place for a quick break to hear from our sponsors.

[music]

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Kim: Well, Jennifer, you mentioned that vaccine that you guys are working with and for the people listening, if you didn't catch it, we had Keith Delaplane who works in your lab also. You work with him and he was on and he's been involved with this company and the vaccine and it sounds like it's pretty good. You got an opinion on it so far since you're closer than probably almost anybody.

Jennifer: Well, unfortunately, I can't say much at this point. [laughs] I will say I'm very excited that they got the USDA approval. They are working on distribution possibly this year because it's a cooperation and it's an agreement between business and our lab. We're not really allowed to say so too much at this point. Let me just say this, I'm very excited. I'm very excited by the process and what this could lead to.

Kim: Well, that's good. Anything that Nonchemical we're putting in a beehive is got to be better than another chemical. This is good. It was interesting talking to Keith about some of the things that were involved, getting to the point where you're at now. I imagine, Scott, you're going to be one of the first ones to use it [laughs] once it's okay. You're right next door there, right?

Scott: Absolutely.

Kim: You mentioned bringing in superintendents to classes that you're teaching and Jennifer's part of that. What are you teaching? What other techniques you got going there?

Scott: Most of this education is outdoor education is the one event of the year that we try to choose things that can be done outdoors. One year we did tree cutting, tree safety, pruning, those kind of things. Another year we did landscape construction, Rockwall things, walkways and things like that. We just try to choose things that can be done outdoors that we think our superintendents will benefit from.

Kim: Bees are going to have to be one of the things they'll benefit from. I hope it sounds like it's going in the right direction. Definitely. Jennifer, are you part of this education thing?

Jennifer: Yes. It's a one-day event that I was invited to. I taught in the morning, basically, the importance of honeybees, how to protect them, what's going on, why they're dying, and then in the afternoon, we moved out into the beehive, and like you said. At first, people were a little nervous standing back by the end. They were right on top of it. That I always-- I find whenever we bring people who are non-beekeepers out to the bee yard.

They're very apprehensive in the beginning, but once they see that we're not going to be attacked and thrown to the ground by bees and drug off and stung to death, they come very close to the hive and usually you're having to knock them back like, stand back, I can't breathe. It was a good day and a lot of the superintendents came up to me afterwards telling me that they are very excited about getting beehives or some of them already had, they were getting in touch with local beekeepers in their area because this was a Nashville or statewide--

Scott: State association.

Jennifer: They were excited about moving forward. Like I said, anytime I hear that anyone, whether it be just a private person or a business is wanting to put beehives out and start protecting our pollinators, I am 100% behind it because as you know, we are in desperate need, especially at land and land that's going to provide nectar and pollen and safe space and areas for shelter and nesting, et cetera. I think the golf course program, the golf course bee program, I guess we have now is just absolutely wonderful.

Scott: I honestly had an individual, a colleague of mine that just came up to me just last week. He did not start a hive himself, but he said he was talking to his dad about it and was explaining the education that he went through and his dad got excited about it, started looking into it and has now started started a hive! It may not always get reached the golf course superintendent, but if the word gets out and spreads a little bit and that's how you just spread the good word and try to reach as many people as you can.

Jeff: Is listening to the show. I'm a beekeeper and I'm thinking, "Well, gosh, this opens up a whole new area where I can place beehives." As a beekeeper, I know where I want to put bees. As a golf course superintendent, where should a beekeeper keep their bees? It's definitely not there by the tee-off pens, right?

Scott: It is.

Jeff: Oh, is it?

Scott: Yes.

Jeff: As a beekeeper, how can I best work with my local golf course to find the most appropriate place for my beehives?

Scott: Let me say you this before I answer your question. If you like golf or you play golf or you know somebody that plays golf, I would recommend any beekeepers listening to contact your local golf course superintendent, ask them if they're interested and see if you can trade out some free golf because that's-- Jennifer and I have done that. I've tried to reach out to her and say, "Hey, I'd like to say thanks. Here's some passes to play golf." Maybe you don't play golf, but maybe you know somebody that does. It's a two-way street.

As far as the location is concerned of hives on the golf course, Jennifer and I looked at that together. I actually got her to come out, look at our site and we picked a balance together, but we wanted to be highly visible. We did it near our putting green and near wherever most of our traffic goes by. We put a little bit off of the path and our carts have GPS on them, so we can restrict areas to our golf carts. We can quarantine that area where golf carts can't drive near it.

We put rope and stake just as a deterrent to say, "Hey, we're trying to get your attention. We want you to let you know that there's something here. If you don't feel comfortable coming, then you probably don't need to cross these ropes here." There's a lot of locations for golf course superintendents to place them and we'd always recommend, maybe not put it right outside the pro shop where everybody's walking right out the door, but put it somewhere where it's highly visible where people get to see it and they start asking questions.

Jennifer: Yes. When he first called me and said, can you come out and let's look for a spot? I assume we were going to be at the back 18th hole in the corner, but it's not, he was like, no, I want to put them right here. You come out of the clubhouse, you walk down this path, there's the putting green and there are the beehives right there. I was so tickled that he wanted to have them that visible with the signs and then signage and everything. It really looks nice. He's done a good job.

Jeff: You want a nice newer hive on display. You don't want one of the 10-year-old hives sitting there?

Kim: One of mine is what you're saying, Jeff.

Jeff: I didn't want to say that. Just because I was looking at you, Kim, doesn't mean I was thinking of you. [laughter]

Jennifer: Hey, I've seen those beehives. I know what they look like.

[laughter]

Jeff: Well, they look worse now. [laughs]

Scott: Oh, no.

Kim: Scott, this just begs the question, can you or will you be doing some plantings for those bees in those areas that aren't getting doused with pesticides, some bee garden or pollinator plants or something?

Scott: Well, we don't douse anything with pesticides. [laughter]

Jennifer: There you go, boy.

Jeff: Then did you pick up on that, Scott? Just negative connotation there.

Scott: Yes. We apply those pesticides very accurately and at the lowest amount possible, but yes, I actually had a pollinator plot prior to the location where the hive is now. I had a pollinator plot there before was part of a program through Audubon International who we're a member of, which, by the way, just this week, we got our certification from for their cooperative sanctuary program for golf courses.

We received our certification this week, and we couldn't be more pleased. That was a long process to get through. We had 8 or 10 categories that we had to meet and there was a lot of work that went into that. We just had our site visit last week for our certification, but I had a pollinator plot there before. I'm actually going to do a monarch program this year because there's obviously an issue with monarchs and their decline.

We're going to be planting a lot of milkweed and naturalizing some areas that we have out of play for monarch butterflies. When we do that, we'll probably go back in and do some more pollinator plots. What I've learned from Jennifer is that there's certain trees that provide way more benefit for honeybees versus just flowers. We're looking at locations to start planting some of those trees and putting them in place and put signage up too to tell people, "Hey, did you know that this tree provides this amount for honeybees." I'm excited about that and to start that program.

Jennifer: I heard at a meeting years ago, and I have not yet found this research, so we're going to redo it. We're doing it this summer. A mature basswood tree has the same nectar production as three acres of clover. If we can start thinking more vertically as opposed to horizontally, flowers are great, and I don't want to discourage anyone from planting flowers, perennials, annual shrubs, whatever. When we start thinking about our pollinator gardens, we need to think vertically. Talking with Scott, and hopefully, they'll be adding some trees. We're doing that here in our small little town of Comer. I'm trying to make this a bee city USA and a tree city USA.

Our campus, University of Georgia, is now a bee campus. Athens is now a bee city. We're trying to really encourage people to think, yes, flowers are good but think vertical, trees are even better, especially for nectar and pollen availability. Another thing I wanted to throw in for the first time this year, our bee lab as a fundraiser is doing pollinator garden flats. Basically, you will buy a flat, and that's your pollinator garden. It'll consist of about 12 different species of pollinator attracting the flowers. We'll come with information about each plant. We'll also come with a map. Basically, I'm just going to hand someone, here's your pollinator garden. Speaking of which, Scott, I'm thinking I need to hand that to you.

Scott: I was going to ask when can I put my order on that.

Jennifer: Absolutely. Some of the things that we're going to have in there are not going to be necessarily the big bold zinnias and the daffodils, not daffodils. Well, yes, daffodil, what's the word I'm thinking of? The big bold, the big ones.

Jeff: Sunflowers.

Jennifer: There we go. They're the big bold flowers. A lot of stuff that we're finding, like the mountain mints, provide nectar and pollen all season long. We're looking at flowers that are still going to be pretty or plants that are still going to be pretty but going to be more beneficial to our pollinators and not just our honeybees, but all sorts of pollinators and beneficial insects. Hopefully, we'll be able to work a little bit more. I've got some plans for you.

Jeff: Are you working with anybody, maybe the Zesta Society, to establish a bee-friendly golf course certification, which would be really cool to have a bee-friendly certification for a golf course, dissuade any of the chemical or let's say pollinator-friendly golf course, because then that instantly shuts down that conversation about golf courses are bad for the environment.

Scott: No, I think that's fantastic. I would love to work with somebody on that. Actually, I said I was recently elected to the Golf Course Superintendent Associates of America. My first committee that I'm going to be on as the environmental committee. Here we go. Let's get the ball rolling and just talking to the right people like Jennifer and you guys to try to figure out, okay, what's that avenue to work with somebody that has the credentials and the credit behind them that would be willing to partner with us and come and meet with us and try to develop something like that because there's already beekeepers out there already that I know would love to have something like that. Love to take that back to their clubs and promote that within their clubs.

Jeff: I think that would be really ideal. I think many golf courses would like to have some sort of designation stating that they're pollinator-friendly.

Kim: I'm sure Xerces is going to be happy to talk to you about that. They do a good job. The other thing that Jennifer is mentioning, the flowers that you're planning, of course you're going to look at native flowers as opposed to invasive things, those sorts of things. There's a group out there that they'll work with you also to get the right plants in your environment and where you are. You're not going to grow the same things in Georgia that I'm going to probably grow up here in Ohio. What you want is the native plants, and that's just a step closer to being a bee-friendly golf course.

Jennifer: Well, that's an interesting point that you bring up, Kim, about native versus invasive. We have so many natives that have become residents of our area, and they're not going away, but they're not necessarily invasive. For instance, we have black and blue salvia, it is a pollinator magnet. It's a hummingbird magnet, but it's not from the United States. It's from South America, but it's not invasive. It doesn't take over areas. It's not throwing its seeds out. It's not like Chinese privet where, here in the southeast, we are fighting that on a daily basis. However, Chinese privet does produce a lot of nectar and a lot of pollen. I say that quietly [laughter] because it is one of those people just go, it's horrible.

It can take over regions so quickly and push out all of our native vegetation.

Jeff: Is that the Chinese tallow?

Jennifer: No, the Chinese tallow tree. That's a whole another can of worms. That's a tree that has been here, I guess, since the 1700s. It was brought over, and it has established itself, and it is pushing out our native trees like tupelos, especially in wetter conditions. There is a fight going on right now between, I don't know exactly who, but I just know there's a fight with a lot of our southern commercial beekeepers. They are fighting against the USDA eradication program of the Chinese tallow tree.

Jeff: Yes, we've had an episode on the Chinese tallow.

Jennifer: Yes, there you go. Back to what Kim was saying about finding out what plants, I've been working closely with our University of Georgia Botanical Gardens, Heather over there, they do a lot of plant cells, and they have native gardens there, the botanical gardens. I've been working with her and asking a lot of questions, probably bugging her a little bit about our natives and what would be best, and making sure that I'm not bringing in something or that we're going to plant something that would be invasive as opposed to a non-native.

Scott: We have amazing botanical gardens at the University of Georgia, and it's actually located across the street from the golf course. I've partnered with them on a couple of things and I actually help them out too, because when they need equipment to do some things, I'll let them borrow and take it over there. If they need turfgrass advice, I've been able to provide them with turf grass advice. I've brought them out before because part of that Audubon International program was that you needed to plant native plant material if you put any plant material back in.

We had a project where we had a subdivision that was built next to the golf course, and we wanted to provide a little bit of a screen for that to separate the golf course from us. The botanical gardens came out and gave me advisement on what to plant, what natives. We have our resident deer that we don't deter. You're not going to see a whole lot of flowers on my golf course, just because we like to live in harmony with the wildlife that we have. We don't plant a lot of flowers. We are trying to find that balance, natives and also deer-resistant. We've partnered with the botanical gardens, and it's great having them as a resource here in Athens.

Jennifer: I have some plants for you that are deer-resistant. I have a neighbor who feeds deer, and I've been trying for years at my farm to find the perfect plants because as you know, they just mow everything down. I have come across several, so I'll share with you.

Jeff: Yes. Not to get off on a deer tangent, but I'm fighting the deer currently myself. I have a bunch of horse braided line for horse fencing on my property, and they've just torn through it with the antlers. They try to duck underneath it, get it to hang up on their antlers, and then they jimmy it around until they snap that electric braid. It's a lot of fencing to go through. Anyway, that's enough of a rant.

Jennifer: Well, if I can also add this too why I'm just beyond excited as far as what Scott is doing. Think of the acreage that we have here in the United States in golf courses. You're continuing to work and expand and maybe they necessarily want to have a beehive, but just the fact that maybe they're wanting to plant things more to bring in other pollinators. I'm excited by the whole project and like I said, when Scott first called me and mentioned this, I could see all these doors opening as far as how it could be helping our pollinator populations.

Scott: I can tell you, golf course superintendents are good stewards of the land and we police ourselves. If you're not doing something you're supposed to be doing, you're going to hear or hear from your colleagues. We're just very environmentally conscious in the things that we do. I can't name a person right off the top of my head that I don't think matches that criteria.

Jeff: Do you have a list of guidelines for working with a golf course to make it pollinator-friendly, bee-friendly. If I wanted to go to my local golf course around the corner and say, "Hey, I really want to work with you to make it pollinator-friendly. This comes from the University of Georgia. These are some suggestions of how to make your golf course pollinator friendly. That way, I can put bees there and know that you're not going to douse them with chemicals." [laughs] Use the word of the day. Sorry, Kim [laughs]. Do you have something like that available?

Scott: It's really up to the golf course superintendent to reach out to individuals that are professionals in that area. We're always open that if somebody came to us and wanted to do something, we would now written standards. I will tell you this, we do have BMPs, Best Management Practices for golf courses. Pollinators and habitats are part of those BMPs. This is nationwide. This is our golf course and the Professional Golf Association of America created this. I actually worked with Dr. Gary Hawkins at UGA to tweak it for the state of Georgia.

In the last four years, we created the BMPs for the State of Georgia for golf courses. I've been fortunate enough to speak at the Georgia Environmental Conference three years now, just talking about our BMPs. We've had a lot of other industries piggyback off of what we're doing. In our BMPs, there is some verbiage about that. If you wanted to get really dialed down and really specific on it, I'm not sure that we have anything. I think there's probably resources out there, maybe through the Audubon International and some other partners that we have. There probably is something out there that I'm not aware of.

Kim: There is. The bee-friendly people, bee-friendly farming is one group and that's when you're farming. What don't you do, when do you do it? That thing. They're set up to do that. That's what they do. They make bee-friendly and then they make sure that you say bee-friendly. If you go looking, I'm going to guess if you just Google bee-friendly farming, you'll find the group that does it. Who is it? The Project Apis m. Jeff does that. Because we've had them on the show before. There is a group and you could start a group called Bee-Friendly Golf Courses.

Scott: Ah, I love it. Well, I'm glad you mentioned that because I'm obviously going to let my colleagues know that I was on this podcast and shared with them and hopefully we'll have quite a few listen to it and hopefully they'll hear what you just said and reach out.

Kim: Like Jeff said, how much land is in golf courses in this country, if you turn every one of them into a pollinator haven, I'm not saying that yours isn't, but if it was recognized as a pollinator haven, suddenly you've opened up a bazillion acres of friendly space for pollinators to be in and know that they're going to be safe just because of the, yes, you've already got a good set of guidelines. You're doing it right already, but this was just one step up.

Jeff: That's the pollinator partnership, P2, who does the bee-friendly farming.

Kim: That's it. There are groups out there that have already started these kinds of programs and you could pick up with them and probably take out another step.

Scott: Yes, if we don't need to reinvent the will then we're not going to do that. We're not ashamed to piggyback on anybody. It's like GPS technology. Well we got that from the farming side of things, but we're more than happy to piggyback anything that makes us better and if we're not having to do all that legwork, so be it. Let's get to the end point faster then.

Jeff: My cousin worked for Jack Nicholas designing golf courses for several years up in Columbus, Ohio. I should have talked to him earlier. I'm going to have to go ring him up and use bees as an excuse to talk to my cousin. [laughs] This has been a fascinating discussion. Time has flown by. Is there anything that we haven't discussed that you wanted to make sure our listeners hear about bees and golf?

Scott: Well, I just wanted to tell you how excited I am to be on this podcast, to be honest with you. I don't know if Jennifer told me about it or I found it on my own, but I've been listening to your podcast for the last six months because I've been trying to soak in as much information as I can and learn because you're not going to know everything when you first start out and you start to learn.

There's a lot to it. There's a lot of ins and outs and things that need to be done. I'm actually going to try to join my lo local beekeepers association so that I can get even more help outside of Jennifer because she's super busy. Hopefully, maybe I can do some trade-offs with some rounds of golf. [laughs] Your podcast and other YouTube videos have been so valuable to me as I continue to learn.

I would encourage any beekeepers who are just starting out or who are looking to get into it, reach out to those experts because much like the golf course superintendent world where we're helpful and we help each other and we're all in it together, I feel like the beekeeping community is the same exact way and beekeepers love to have people outside of the industry asking them about their industry. It's a good, there are two industries Jill really well, as far as that's concerned.

Kim: That's good to hear. Yes.

Jennifer: I totally agree with what you just said. Kim, how long have we been educating beekeepers? There's a lot of really bad information out there, but there's a lot of good information and I know that you all have been putting out these awesome podcasts for years now. Excited to finally be on one [laughter] It took years to get me here. Oh gosh.

Jeff: Well, we wanted to make sure we had the show down right before we invited you on the show. We did want to get embarrassed.

Jennifer: [laughs] Thank you. No, that's a very good point, especially to our new beginner beekeepers out there. Get a mentor, find a local club. Don't necessarily listen to everything you are seeing or viewing or hearing on YouTube. I see there's good stuff out there, but sometimes I just want to reach through the screen and tell people to stop it, what they're doing. Putting oxalic acid and moonshine and blowing it into their colonies.

Scott: No. I have to say I have not seen that video yet.

Jeff: [laughs] No, I'll avoid that one. The other thing I always warn beekeepers and we're getting off track, but it's all local too. What works in Georgia may not work in Washington state where I'm at.

Jennifer: Well, the basics are there. The basics, like keep your levels down, keep your bees well fed, but correct, you've got cold weather and we don't, or we have humidity and you might not, yes, microenvironments, yes, it's very important to know your local climate.

Scott: Golf courses are no different. We have micro-climates within a hundred-mile radius. Colleague of mine 50 miles down the road is probably dealing with something I'm not just because there's elevation or there's tree coverage and so there's the microclimates are even local. When you start separating between Georgia and Ohio, then you start to see large differences then.

Jeff: Well, it's been fantastic. Thanks so much for being here and we look forward to having you both back at one time or another. It's been a fun conversation.

Kim: It has been. I hope the next time we talk you've got the first bee-friendly golf course in Georgia.

Scott: I'll take that as a challenge.

[laughter]

Jeff: All right. Thanks for joining us.

Scott: Thank you.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Jeff: Kim, do you play golf?

Kim: No, I don't. A lot of years ago I used to work with University Extension and when I went to a golf course, it was to solve a problem that they were having with some bug. That was a long time ago. I don't golf, but I tell you this thing today, it got me excited. If you turn every golf course in the US into a pollinator haven, that would be fantastic.

Jeff: You think about it and you think, "Oh, my gosh, that's so obvious. It's right there. Why not take advantage of it?" I think this is a great program and I think that if no one else picks up the certified Pollinator Friendly Golf Course program, I think that's something that beekeeping today ought to do. [laughs]

Kim: Well, certainly if you are associated with a golf course out there, it would be something to touch base with them on and maybe get them interested or maybe they know about it and you can help them out getting them even more information. I think there's an opportunity to hear, we can't afford to miss.

Jeff: I agree. Let's get after it. Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast wherever you download and stream the show. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you'd like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American Beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

We want to thank our regular episode sponsors, Global Patties and Strong Microbials, and Betterbee for their longtime support of this podcast. Thanks to Hive Alive for returning this spring. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their generous support. Check out all of their books at www.northernbeebooks.co.uk. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show. Feel free to leave us questions and comments at Leave a Comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

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Jennifer BerryProfile Photo

Jennifer Berry

Researcher/beekeeper

For over 22 years, Jennifer Berry has been the Apicultural Research Professional and Lab Manager for the University of Georgia Bee Program. Her research objectives have focused on queen breeding, improving honey bee health, IPM techniques for varroa and small hive beetle control, sub-lethal effects of pesticides on beneficial insects, weeds for bees, and what best to plant in non-traditional horticultural landscapes to enhance pollinator populations and diversity.

Jennifer’s extension duties include teaching beekeeping to folks all over the world, including those incarcerated in Georgia’s medium and maximum security prisons.

Scott Griffith, CGCSProfile Photo

Scott Griffith, CGCS

Director of Agronomy

I have worked 25 years in the golf business. 16 years at the University of Georgia Golf Course. My current job title is Director of Agronomy. I am a past president of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association. Awards earned through that association are Superintendent of the Year and the President's Award. I also earned the Environmental Leaders in Golf Award through the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation for my work with the creation of BMP's for the state of Georgia.

I was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America which is a 19,000+ member association. I have earned the highest recognition through this association by becoming a Certified Golf Course Superintendent.

My wife Kim and I have been married for 25 years with two children, Addison who is a Freshman at the University of Georgia and Jack who is in 6th grade.