Eye op takes sting out of Egton Bridge man’s beekeeping

Beekeeper John Drakes.
Beekeeper John Drakes.

For Egton Bridge man John Drakes, beekeeping has been both a fascinating hobby and a career for 35 years –but latterly with the nuisance of glasses.

That has all changed since an operation at a specialist eye hospital which has freed him from specs for the first time in 20 years.

John, 66, who needed separate glasses for close-up and distance vision, explains that one of the biggest perils of beekeeping was standing in front of more than 50,000 bees at a hive and having to lift the protective veil to either swap glasses, or wipe them clear when steamed-up on hot days.

He said: “When beekeeping, you have to look very closely for minute eggs as small as 1.5 mm long, and also for signs of disease in the structure of the larva, but also have to check on bees in the distance – so for years I was frustrated at having to continually change my glasses.

“I was also worried, as it meant lifting my veil to change specs, which would often allow bees in at the same time.

“On more than one occasion I was stung which was so painful and is always dangerous near the eyes and mouth.

John was apprehensive about laser surgery but went to an open evening at specialist eye hospital Optegra in Bradford, where he heard about an alternate treatment, Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), where the lens is personally tailored to meet individual prescription needs.

John said: “My surgeon and all the team completely reassured me so I was not worried about the treatment at all. Just four weeks on from my procedure, and it’s fantastic.

“I love my hobby so much, and can now enjoy talking to the bees, opening up the hive, watching them go about their daily business.”

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