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Source: Syngenta news release

Golfers aren't alone on the links these days. On a growing number of U.S. courses, native bees and other pollinators are finding a variety of nutritious wildflowers planted in out-of-play areas. That's not only good for pollinators, it's good for golf courses.

Developed by the agriculture company Syngenta, Operation Pollinator is a research-based initiative that restores native pollinators in landscapes like golf courses and farmland by creating essential habitats.

"Operation Pollinator helps tell our story," says Scott Bender, CGCS, director of engineering and grounds, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, Lexington, Kentucky. "It shows golfers and anyone who sees the Operation Pollinator sign that Marriott is a company committed to doing what's right for the environment, not just the company. It's a program we're proud to be a part of."

Operation Pollinator adds a diverse and colorful array of regionally selected wildflowers planted in out-of-play areas to attract native bees and other pollinators, provide nutritious forage and boost bee numbers. At the same time, Operation Pollinator is enhancing course landscapes, increasing biodiversity and establishing low- to no-maintenance natural areas for superintendents.

Syngenta launched the program in Europe more than 10 years ago. Now global, the company has been working with several U.S. universities the past four years to establish Operation Pollinator sites in this country.

Griffin Gate Golf Club was part of the pilot Operation Pollinator with the University of Kentucky that began fall 2011. So far, Syngenta has signed up more than 50 courses across 20 states in the program.

"It definitely attracts lots of bees. Our course is alive with activity," says Bender.

June 16 through 22 is National Pollinator Week, an effort to highlight concerns about declining bee populations. Loss of habitat and lack of nutrition are among the factors that affect bee health, according to a report by the USDA.

"With Operation Pollinator, we're raising awareness about the pressures pollinators are under and how we can proactively help their foraging efforts," says Stephanie Schwenke, golf marketing manager, Syngenta. "And we're helping superintendents tell the story of how a golf course is positive for the landscape environment."

Managing habitats for bees and other pollinators significantly increases biodiversity and also contributes to one of six commitments Syngenta made in its The Good Growth Plan - helping biodiversity flourish. Syngenta has promised to enhance biodiversity on more than 12 million acres of farmland around the world by 2020.

Learn more about Syngenta's efforts to improve bee health at

Follow Syngenta on Twitter @SyngentaTurf and join the conversation with #OperationPollinator.

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