The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 13, 2009

Area man promotes beekeeping

For David Burns, beekeeping has gone from a hobby to a full-time devotion of beekeeping.

“In 1994, a friend from my church called me and told me he had a tree fall over and it had a swarm of bee in it,” explained Burns. “My friend was a beekeeper and he set up with some equipment to get the bees into a hive.”

From that time on Burns has immersed himself in beekeeping, creating what could be called a “bee farm.” He not only sells honey, but he has also become a grower and seller of queen bees.

“Each bee hive has one queen bee and several thousand worker bees,” said Burns. “There will also be a several drones.”

A drone is a male bee whose only job is to mate with a queen bee. The worker bees are all female.

Once a young queen has mated with between 10-20 drones, she begins to lay eggs in the hive. A queen bee will lay between 1,000 to 3,000 eggs a day.

The worker bees go out and collect nectar from flowers carrying it in a separate stomach back to the hive. The nectar, which is made up of 80 percent water and some complex sugars, is passed to other worker bees that also are called “house” bees. The house bees process the nectar by chewing it for about 30 minutes.

During this chewing process, enzymes from the bees break down the complex sugars into simple sugars and also remove some of the water content. This also makes the nectar more palatable to the bees and prevents it from being attacked by bacteria.

The bees then put this nectar in cells in the honeycomb of the hive and further reduce the water content by fanning it with their wings. It turns it into a thick syrup, which is honey. Once a cell is filled, the bees top it off with beeswax.

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