Birdies, Bogies and Bees Are Par for the Course: Announcing the 2016 Community Leadership Award Winners

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
By: Dr. Becky Langer, Project Manager
Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, Illinois

Since 2013, the Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award has celebrated beekeepers who use their work in beekeeping to improve their communities and promote pollinator health. This year, the award evolved from focusing on individual beekeepers to recognizing the important partnership between beekeepers and other environmental stakeholders in their local community.

We heard from beekeepers around the country and were astounded by the incredible work being done to support pollinators and crops to the benefit of all parties involved.

Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award winner with bee boxDespite the tough competition, this year’s winners were standouts, thanks to their tireless work to show how healthy bees can co-exist with birdies – on the golf course, that is!

This year’s Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award winners – Scott Witte, director of agronomy at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, Illinois, and Luke Cella, executive director of the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents (MAGCS) – have recently begun to work together “to promote healthy land management on golf courses” and abide by the philosophy that golf courses can and should foster healthy ecosystems for bees and other pollinators.

Witte is the founder of The Bee Barometer Project, which is dedicated to changing the common belief in the golf community that courses should be “sterile, weed-free mono-stands of turfgrass” and to promoting the notion of golf courses as diverse ecosystems that can sustain all types of flora and fauna, including pollinators. He uses the six managed honey bee hives, two wild hives and multiple native prairie and wildflower patches on the course as teaching opportunities for golfers.

Illinois wildlife restoration area planted with pollinator flowersThe bees aren’t the only ones who benefit from The Bee Barometer Project! Visitors also enjoy the honey produced by Cantigny bees in meals prepared by the course chef, and Cantigny Golf honey and beeswax lip balm are sold in the pro shop.

As the executive director of MAGCS, Luke Cella is now working with Witte to implement these environmental initiatives at many of the nearly three hundred golf courses in the greater Chicago area that make up the organization. The MAGCS just started a fund to provide monetary assistance to other golf course superintendents for beekeeping and pollinator garden initiatives.

“The Bee Barometer Project breaks down barriers of the status quo by urging golf property managers and golfers to think differently, and open their minds to the beauty and value of nature in its wild state,” Witte says. “I’m honored to be part of the partnership awarded this year’s Community Leadership Award and excited for the opportunities it will bring to educate even more of my colleagues and golfing patrons about the role we can play in sustaining honey bee health.”

Congratulations, Scott and Luke, and thanks for all you do to help pollinators!

Learn more about the incredible work of our past Community Leadership Award winners.


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