“The beeswax is for food and the worker bees are for the queen,” Burns explained. “The queen does nothing but lay eggs, she doesn’t even feed herself.”
Burns ships the queens by UPS overnight.
According to Burns, a queen will lay for about two years while the worker bee only lives about 35 days. He said the constant flapping of their wings causes the wings to tear and the bees just fall to the ground unable to fly.
Dr. Stu Jacobson, retired research specialist from the University of Illinois-Springfield, who taught honey bee management, said Burns has taken a leading role in expanding beekeeping in Illinois.
“I believe David is the only queen producer in Illinois and there only a couple in Indiana,” Jacobson said. “We have a program called the Illinois Queen Initiative and David’s work is part of what the Initiative is about. We want to produce locally grown queens to insure the stability of the bee population here in the Midwest.”
According to Jacobson, the importance of producing locally grown queens is to help prevent the outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This is the disease, first noticed in 2007, where whole hives of bees disappear.
According to Burns, there has not been a single case of CCD in Illinois, with most of the cases occurring in places like California and Texas.
Burns said he thinks that CCD is a combination of factors such as a mite that infects the bees and stress.
“What is alarming about CCD is that bees are needed to pollinate 80 percent of the food crops in this country,” Burns said.
Burns is so committed to preserving beekeeping that he teaches classes on beekeeping and now sells beekeeping equipment.
Usually every other month he will have a day-long class at his farm teaching people about starting and maintaining a hive. The courses are seven hours long and are held on Saturdays.