Britain’s youngest beekeeper unable to eat honey because he is diabetic

June 1, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A schoolboy told of his joy at becoming one of Britain’s youngest beekeepers – despite being unable to eat his own honey because he is diabetic.

Adam Dawson, 12, passed an accredited beekeeping course two months ago and has now completed his first hive containing 30,000 honey bees.

But while most beekeepers are wary of painful stings, the youngster’s hobby poses a different threat from the bee’s honey.

Although he loves his new pastime, Adam will not be able to taste the fruits of his labour as he is severely diabetic and indulging in the sweet treat could be fatal.

At 18 months Adam almost died after doctors failed to diagnose his condition correctly and he was left fighting for his life in a coma for a whole week.

But after surviving against the odds, Adam now wears a machine which pumps a steady supply of insulin into his bloodstream.

He can taste a spoonful of honey but must compensate by increasing his dose of insulin to ensure he does not slip into a diabetic coma.

Now Adam, of Fulbourn, Cambs., is looking forward to seeing his own hive produce honey even though he will not be able to ever sample more than a mouthful.

Adam said: ”I didn’t have much to do and I thought it would be a good hobby. I am hoping to get my first batch of honey next year.

”I can’t each much of the honey because of my diabetes but I can occasionally taste a spoonful.”

Adam beat off competition against 250 applicants to win one of 90 places on the Cambridge Beekeeping Association course at Bottisham Village College, Cambs.

He was the youngest person on the course and since qualifying in March he has built his own hive and now helps to manage others in the area.

Adam fell ill when he was 18 months old and his worried parents, Patricia and Stuart Dawson, took him to his GP who suspected he had diabetes.

He sent them to casualty for urgent bloodtests where doctors said Adam had a virus and told them to administer a double dose of Calpol and go home.

But the toddler was ill throughout the night and was rushed to hospital where he slipped into a diabetic coma for a week.

For a long time Adam would not eat food from a plate as he associated it with making him ill and would only eat from packets.

Now he eats normally but his insulin levels are constantly controlled with a belt he wears around his waist which feeds directly into his stomach.

Proud grandmother Ann Waldock, 71, of Fulbourn, has kept bees for 30 years and Adam caught the beekeeping buzz after helping to tend her hives.

She said: ”Adam started out by helping me and said he wanted to do it himself.

”He took the course, along with 90 others, but they had to draw lots for those who could be taught how to build a hive.

”He lost out but did help someone else and brought home the hive-making kit and built it.

”He can only just taste a little bit of honey because of his diabetes.”

UK bee colonies are under threat from disease, a lack of foraging ground due to changing habitats and a change in climate.

Average losses of bee colonies during the winter months are one in every seven to ten hives, but one in three bee colonies were lost in the winters of 2007/8 and 2008/9.

There are 300 species of bees living in the UK, unable to inter-mate, but just one species of honeybee with several different races.

In Summer a large colony contains one Queen bee, and up to 70,000 female workers with 300 male drones.

Bees within man-made hives secrete wax to create parallel honey combs made up of hexagonal beeswax cells.

A hive produces between 30 to 100lb (14 to 45kg) of honey each year – the equivalent of 40 to 130 jars weighing 0.75lb (340g).

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