Eugene Killion

Posted 6/21/22

Eugene Killion, 98, of Paris, passed away Sunday, June 19, 2022 at his residence. He was a beekeeper and was known worldwide for his research and knowledge of honeybees.

A service celebrating his …

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Eugene Killion


Eugene Killion, 98, of Paris, passed away Sunday, June 19, 2022 at his residence. He was a beekeeper and was known worldwide for his research and knowledge of honeybees.

A service celebrating his life is 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 24, at Templeton Funeral Home. Burial follows in Edgar Cemetery with military honors by American Legion Post 211. Visitation is from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at the funeral home.

Mr. Killion was born Oct. 12, 1923, in Libertyville, Ind., the son of the late Carl Killion Sr. and Elizabeth Hayes Killion. He was part Cherokee Indian on his mother’s side. He married Audrey Kathleen “Katy” Humphrey May 24, 1947, in Paris, and she preceded him in death Sept. 10, 2012.

He is survived by his son, and very close friend, Mark Killion of Paris. 

He was preceded in death by one brother, Carl Killion Jr.

Mr. Killion attended a country one-room schoolhouse north of Libertyville for first grade. His family moved to Paris, where he began second grade at Mayo School. He played the French horn in the first school band in Paris and later in high school and Paris City Bands. He majored in three sports while attending high school: track, cross-country and basketball, earning 10 letters. He was cross-country captain his senior year and was on the first five basketball team from 1940 to 1941. 

Upon graduating from high school, he planned to attend the University of Illinois, and major in entomology, but when World War II began, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps at Chanute Field. He served for 3 ½ years and became a staff sergeant. He served as a control tower operator in Calcutta, India, in the China, Burma, Indian theatre (CBI). Upon returning to the states in 1946, he decided to go into partnership with his father, Carl, and formed the company of Killion and Son Apiaries. 

Mr. Killion was active in the Paris Parent Teachers Association, helped form the Little League Basketball Program, was a member of the Paris District 95 School Board for two terms, serving as president for one year. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Paris and served as teacher and president of his Sunday school class, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the church. 

During the summer of 1951, Killion and Son broke the World record for honeycomb production.  Killion’s honey has won 38 blue ribbons and trophies at the American National Honey Shows.

Killion and Son operated 1,000 beehives until 1970 when beekeepers of Illinois asked him to replace his father, who was retiring as Superintendent of the Division of Apiaries in the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Killion Gene rose to the position of Executive II after 18 ½ years in the department. He then was asked to be Extension Specialist in beekeeping at the University of Illinois in the Natural History Survey Department as a research associate, where he remained for 17 years. He was nominated for an Honorary Doctor of Humanities at the University of Illinois. 

He authored books, chapters of books and beekeeping articles and lectured on all phases of beekeeping throughout the world. He did extensive research on honeybee mites at the University when the honeybee mites first entered North America and was a collaborator with the United States Department of Agriculture in work with the Africanized honeybee in Venezuela and Mexico.  His photographs of honeybees and beekeeping are used worldwide.

Mr. Killion was a member of Apiary Inspector of America, serving as president for one term; International Bee Research Association, serving as it’s representative in the Midwest; American Beekeeping Federation; and American Honey Producers Association.  Many countries around the world asked him to come and give lectures on beekeeping and honeybees. 

Upon his retirement at the university, he was a member of the external advisory committee of the University of Illinois Natural History Survey for six years. He was chief judge at honey shows throughout the U.S. and wrote the Honey House Sanitation Guidelines for the Illinois Department of Health, which were adopted by the Honey Packers and Dealers Association of the United States. 

Mr. Killion and his father were the first to sell pollen traps and pollen substitutes. They were the first to package comb honey in plastic.  They also were the first in developing roadside seeding of highways to attract pollinating insects. They experimented with freezing royal jelly to enable grafting early queen cells. They hold a patent on the Killion Comb Honey Super and developed a change in the slatted rack used in a deep bottom board. They bred a special comb honey stock bee that produced a certain capping finish on honeycomb. They supplied royal jelly used in early cancer research.

Honors bestowed upon Mr. Killion have included two Governor Certificates of Appreciation for his work in the Illinois Department of Agriculture; being commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by the beekeepers of Kentucky; accolades from the United States Department of Agriculture for contributions to the honey industry; Outstanding Achievement Award by Illinois Department of Agriculture; Rotary Club Citizen of the Year; Governor’s Award for the Killion’s 50 years of service as Superintendent of the Bee and Honey Exhibits at the Illinois State Fair; United States Department of Agriculture Superior Service Award for outstanding contribution to the apiary industry of the United States; Leadership Award by Illinois Apiary Inspectors; Distinguished Service Award from Apiary Inspectors of America; American Beekeeping Federation President’s Award for contributions to the leadership of ABF; Certificate of Appreciation from USDA-APHIS innovative involvement in Tracheal and Varroa mite surveys; two Certificate of Appreciation awards from Illinois State Beekeepers Association; Certificate of Appreciation from American Honey Producers Association; awarded life membership by Illinois Congress of Parents and Teachers; Certificate of Appreciation by Senator Harry Woodyard and the State of Illinois for his work as Chief Apiary Inspector for Illinois; Certificate of Appreciation from Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association; Certificate of Appreciation from SAHR (Department of Agriculture Mexico) for conducting beekeeping classes before the arrival of the Africanized Honey Bee in Mexico; Illinois Beekeeper of the Year; and Pioneer Award by the Illinois State Beekeepers Association. 

Mr. Killion was instrumental in fulfilling his father’s dream of having the United States Postal Service honor the honeybee on a postal issue with first day issue, festival and ceremonies held in Paris on Oct. 10, 1980.

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