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Article updated: 7/26/2013 2:14 PM

Moving Picture: Kline Creek beekeeper in 30th year

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By Bev Horne

Lawrence DuBose still laughs about the time a young visitor to Kline Creek Farm called him Dr. DuBees.

It's a perfect moniker because DuBose has been a beekeeper at the living-history farm near West Chicago since 1984.

Now 92, the Carol Stream man still heads to the 1800s-style farm nearly every day to tend to about 20 hives.

When he isn't in the orchard with the bees, you can find him in Wanda's Honey House answering questions for visitors and offering them a taste of honey or a piece of honey candy. The house was built in 2010 and is named after his late wife.

Jars of honey are on display in the house and DuBose uses a video and other visuals to explain how bees make the sweet treat. He also likes to give out packets of vegetable seeds, like squash, that will produce plants that attract bees for pollination.

A retired civil engineer, DuBose has been beekeeping since he was 12. After going into the Army and serving during World War II, he took a break for many years to teach and raise a family. But by 1979 the familiar buzz drew him back to beekeeping.

DuBose himself rarely wears gloves when working with the bees, and he's got the occasional sting to prove it.

He and a volunteer examine each hive and look for evidence of a queen. He also dusts some powdered sugar over some of the bees, puts them in a jar and examines them for verroa mites, a parasite that cost him most of his hives last year.

DuBose says he's also lost hives to something called colony collapse disorder, a mysterious development that began in 1994 in France and elsewhere in Europe and spread to the United States about six years later. The disorder causes honeybee colonies to collapse and threatens their populations worldwide.

DuBose thinks agricultural pesticides are to blame for the dwindling numbers of honeybees which are essential to the food supply, DuBose says.

"The honeybee is our most needed pollinator," he says. "The honeybee is the only insect that can do the pollination job that is needed in the United States today."

Without that pollination, he says, the cost of fruit, nuts and vegetables would soar -- if those foods were available at all. Those challenges aside, DuBose says he still enjoys talking to visitors and educating them about the wonders of nature.

"Maybe I'm like Forrest Gump who started walking," he says with a smile. "I start talking and maybe I don't know when to stop sometimes."

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