Members of South Essex Golf Centre in the UK can now start sampling a special variety of honey, which has been produced locally at the club by course manager and beekeeper Peter Dawson (pictured).
Dawson, who has been the club’s course manager since the mid-nineties, has been beekeeping on the golf course for several years. In 2005, he and his team won the Best Newcomer prize in the annual British & International Golf Greenkeeping Association Environment Awards and reinvested the £500 cash prize in beekeeping training. The following year, Dawson had two hives set up on the course.
Limited quantities of the South Essex Honey are now being served up to golfers at the centre.
“Our two current hives are doing very well, and although we only produce small amounts of honey, people do seem to love it on their toast in the clubhouse,” said Dawson.
According to Barry Careford, the club’s general manager, the hives are well hidden away on the course and pose no hazard to people. “[They’re] out on our Heron golf course near the 8th hole, so our golfers really aren’t aware of them,” he said. “It’s a peaceful and enjoyable enterprise which typifies Peter’s devotion to maintaining the good reputation of South Essex Golf Centre, and it’s one of the things which sets us apart from other golf clubs.”
“When golfers see that a golf club is beekeeping, it reminds them that a golf club has great value to the community as a nature reserve, as well as being somewhere for people to relax,” added Bob Taylor, head of ecology and environment at the Sports Turf Research Institute. “In fact, UK wildlife is increasingly dependent on golf courses for their habitats.”
In May 2013, the course’s eco-friendly endeavours were recognised by the international Golf Environment Organisation, when it made the club one of the first to be GEO Certified in the UK.
“Peter and other UK golf clubs are doing great work in spreading the message that a golf club is far from being the selfish use of land which some of the sport’s detractors would try to have you believe,” said Taylor. “Plus, that feeling of well-being you get when you walk around a golf course is enhanced by the habitat which good beekeeping promotes – such as an abundance of wild flowers, which the honey bees help to pollenate.”
Dawson and his team are also managing a large pollen-rich wild flower area using cultural methods, and as a result of their careful ecological policies the golf centre is also brimming with other wildlife such as water voles, brown hares, harmless grass snakes, great crested newts, common lizards, badgers and skylarks.