Insect Pollinators Need More Habitat
Photo: Emily Dobbs, a University of Kentucky graduate
student in entomology, evaluates a planting of perennial wildflowers located at
University of Kentucky's AJ Powell Turf Research Facility that attract bees and
butterflies seeking pollen and nectar. The USGA, along with Syngenta and the
University of Kentucky Nursery Endowment Fund, are supporting the first use of
a program called Operation Pollinator on North American golf courses.
Street Journal recently reported on a U.S. Department of Agriculture study that
said, “The number of honey bee colonies declined by
31% last winter.” This amounts to a loss of about 800,000
colonies, the latest reported toll of mass die-offs. Worldwide, bee and
butterfly numbers have dropped dramatically, whether by climate change or
habitat loss. So, what does this have to do with golf courses?
past, the USGA cooperated with the Xerces Society on studies to help golf
courses provide needed habit for a host of insect pollinators in out-of-play
areas. Recently, the USGA, along with Syngenta and the University of Kentucky
Nursery Endowment Fund, are supporting the first use of a program called
Operation Pollinator on North American golf courses. "Bees are really
critical for food supply," said Daniel Potter, professor of entomology at
the University of Kentucky (UK). Hence, there is an urgent need to cultivate
spaces that are friendly to bees and butterflies. Emily Dobbs, a UK graduate
student in entomology, began the project in 2011 to produce mixes of
wildflowers that would attract bees and butterflies. Then, she planted them on
six Lexington golf courses.
can't just go out in a field and start throwing seeds around," Potter
said. The plots are 20 feet by 200 feet for each of the golf courses. Of the
three seed mixes developed, Dobbs said one is for butterflies, two are for bees,
and one is a fallow plot that serves as a control. Consisting of perennial
plants, the seed mix is designed to provide visual interest for all seasons. "There's
an opportunity to create a sanctuary here," Dobbs explained. She is using
different techniques to measure success, including the number of blooms,
"bee bowl" trapping in bright plastic bowls with soapy water, and
by the Syngenta Company, Operation Pollinator projects began in Great Britain.
The idea is to provide scattered plantings for bees and butterflies to gather
pollen and nectar. For North America, “The possibilities for other
pollinator gardens are nearly endless — on horse farms, school
grounds, private homes, and even neighborhood parkland,” Dobbs said. For now, Potter suggested,
"The golf course can become an urban sanctuary."
Cheryl. "UK Student Plants Golf Course Gardens to Increase Bee, Butterfly
Populations." Kentucky.com (30 Apr. 2013): n. pag. The Lexington Herald-Leader. Web. 09 May 2013.
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Vaughan, Mace; Black, Scott Hoffman. 2006. MAKING
MORE ROOM A Companion to Making Room for Native Pollinators: Oregon’s
Butterflies, Local Plants, and Extra Resources. Portland, Oregon: The
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Tomson, Bill; and Tracy,
Ryan. “Bee Deaths Put Crops at Risk – Mounting Toll on Pollinating Insects
Imperils Over $20 Billion a Year in Harvests.” The Wall Street Journal CCLXI (8 May 2013):A3. Web. 09 May 2013.