A devoted beekeeper has risked her life each day to tend to her buzzy pals – because she is ALLERGIC to them.
Busy Kath Cordingley, 54, says she would never consider quitting her job even if it meant potentially putting herself in danger.
The mum-of-two says she was unaware she was allergic to bee stings until she suffered anaphylactic shock at home in 2016 and was rushed to hospital.
Undeterred by the discovery, Kath decided to undergo a desensitisation immunotherapy treatment course at Preston Royal Hospital.
The treatment, which she attended each month for a period of three years, involved a gradual exposure to bee sting venom in order to build up immunity.
Kath, from Preston, Lancs., said: “When I got stung on the nose I felt sick, and dizzy, and my blood pressure was all over the place.
“There is a danger involved, yes, but I carry an epipen with me at all times so I feel safe.
“It’s my job now, it’s not a hobby. I can’t just quit.
“Bees are vital to our environment, and are absolutely essential to our planet’s survival.”
She added: “I could never stop doing this. Not for an allergy, not for anything.”
But it wasn’t love at first sight for Kath, who was introduced to the world of beekeeping after her husband Simon bought her a beekeeping course as a 42nd birthday present.
Kath says she was disappointed as she expected a nice trip abroad and told her daughter Melissa they would go shopping instead.
But after a month she was buzzing and came home with 60,000 bees.
She said: “I thought I was going to get flights to some new country with lots of sun, you can imagine my disappointment on my 42nd birthday.
“But after about a month I was hooked and I was mesmerised by the bees – so I bought three colonies.
“I had about 60,000 bees in my car as I drove home and most of them escaped and I remember seeing a bee on my steering wheel and they were just everywhere.”
Unfortunately, the bees didn’t survive the winter and Kath vowed she would “never let that happen again”.
She said: “They’re such fascinating creatures but the person who sold them to us said they’d be fine to survive through winter but sadly they all died.
“I was gutted in Spring when I went to check on them and I told myself I’d never let something like this happen again.
“I did my research and began reading more and more about bees until I was ready to get some more.
“We started out with just thousands of bees, and now we’ve had millions of them and I’ve devoted the last 12-odd years to them.”
The couple now own millions of bees all around Lancashire and founded the Bee Centre in 2016, which hopes to develop a robust, near-native honey bee population nationally.
Husband Simon, 55, says the couple were immediately concerned after they discovered she was allergic back in 2016.
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger such as an allergy.
This condition is dangerous and if it isn’t treated immediately it can result in serious complications and even be fatal.
Simon said: “Kath is badly allergic to bees and for three years she had to go each month to the NHS to stop her dying from stings.
“We were concerned when she would get reactions because they were severe.
“It was potentially life threatening and she was always going to be exposed to that danger.
“But I don’t think I could ever ask her to stop doing this, she loves it too much and bees are absolutely essential to our lives.”
Simon, who has been married to Kath for 27 years, added that he feels smug about the birthday present after she’d dismissed it all those years ago.
He said: “I feel quite smug with how it has all turned out.
“She had no idea what she was doing, and she placed them in the car and a few hundred had escaped into the car as she drove on the motorway.
“It’s funny to look back at it and where we are now.
“But we have always been environmental people, and it’s an important task from a sustainability aspect.”