Bee hives at Hever Castle Golf & Wellbeing

April 23 2024 | Golf

In the grounds of Hever Castle Golf & Wellbeing are two bee hives which have been naturally populated by bees.

Head greenkeeper Rob Peers originally built the hives around 10 years ago and bought an Italian swarm.

Unfortunately over the years they have been killed off by foulbrood and plagued by hornets.

Now one of the hives has naturally repopulated, potentially adding thousands of bees into the local habitat.

Rob said: “If you have a couple of swarms a year that’s 100,000 bees into the local environment.

“It’s a great litmus test, if you use too many chemicals you won’t get bees.”

The hives are located behind the greenkeeper’s storage in an area of woodland, with a nearby pond and ornamental trees.

Rob explained: “We had a natural occupation seven years ago. I didn’t interfere with them. It occurred naturally. I found it quite rewarding that certain times of year they were happy to produce queens.

“Since I let mother nature take over I’ve had more success. I just manage the outside. I’ve given them a castle.

“It’s quite rewarding. I used to eat my lunch by them. It was a great place to be.”

Rob has worked on other environmental projects at the golf club, created an area conductive to wildlife at Kings Wood.

A natural spring was dug out to create a small area for animals to drink from and an exit stream was layered with blue clay to provide a shallower water habitat for invertebrates.

Houses for bugs, bats and hedgehogs were created from materials recycled or found on site.

The hedgehog homes were made from recycled fertilizer drums and inspection panels made from old golf buggy windscreens.

Worn out tyres from mowers used on the greens were used to create a bug web and more fertiliser drums were transformed into a snake chamber.

He also worked hard to sustainably access an extra water supply during increasingly drought hit summers whilst providing a wonderful habit for flora and fauna.

Rob has also created lagoons to recycle waste water, boosting water supply and also habitats.

These efforts paid off with a win in the Sustainable Project of the Year category at the Golf Environment Awards in 2023.