BallenIsles boosted by rare birds and honey bees

BallenIsles Country Club, Florida

A South Florida country club is enjoying unexpected benefits after converting unused areas of its golf courses into a bird sanctuary and a honey bee colony.  

A waiting list for bird-watching tours and a community side-line in honey production are two bonuses for BallenIsles Country Club since choosing to cultivate natural habitats for birdlife and pollinators at its 36-hole facility.

The club is a member of The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, a joint initiative between the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Audubon International, which promotes ecologically sound land management and conservation of natural resources.

Michael Stevens, Director of Agronomy at BallenIsles Country Club told West Palm Beach TV: “We take a lot of pride in producing the conditions for our members and for our golfing public, but also developing a sustainable resource environment for generations to come.”

BallenIsles has become a mecca for bird watchers after converting a wooded lake island into a bird sanctuary, which Stevens says is home to ospreys, bald eagles, snowy white egrets, cormorants and American white ibis.

The club’s ornithology tours are now oversubscribed, and a waiting list is in place.

“Bird Island provides nesting birds and vulnerable chicks protection and availability to food sources during critical times and their annual cycles. It’s with this understanding that we continue to focus on the future of Bird Island and its native residents,” said Stevens.

Between two fairways on the club’s East Course are the Ballenbees, a colony of honey bees, maintained with the help of a local beekeeper. 

Stevens says the colony produced 450 pounds of honey last year which was then harvested and sold to community stores in the Palm Beach Gardens area.

"It encourages the pollination of our native plants here on property but also outside BallenIsles in the agriculture markets," Stevens said.

BallenIsles’ work with the ACSPG recently caught the attention of WPTV, a regional Florida TV news channel, which visited the club in Palm Beach Gardens.