In 2011, James Middleton received an unusual gift from his family for his 24th birthday: a “large buzzing box” of bees.
In an essay he penned for the Daily Mail about his love for bees, James explained that it was this gift that helped him turn his beekeeping dreams into a reality.
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“I’d always harboured a longing to keep bees, but it wasn’t until I turned 24 in 2011 that the wish became reality,” he wrote. “Then, my family — mum, dad and my sisters Catherine and Pippa — clubbed together to buy what for me was the most fantastic birthday gift imaginable.”
When James opened his buzzing box, he learned that there were 1,000 Buckfast bees inside, the beginning of his colony.
Nearly a decade has passed since that fateful gift, and today James has almost half a million bees at the Middleton family home in Berkshire.
“I love spending time with my bees, checking, monitoring, treating them and collecting their honey: it is soothing toil; a balm for troubled minds,” James wrote. He uses beekeeping — which he considers “an active form of meditation” — to cope with his clinical depression, which he was diagnosed with in 2016.
Though James admits that there are economic barriers to entry when it comes to beekeeping — a new hive can cost as much as £500 ($630) — he adds there are “kit versions and cheaper [hives] on internet auction sites” for people whose siblings aren’t literal royalty.
Alternatively, you could always wait for your birthday and hope that your family gifts you a small 1,000-bee starter kit — but until then, you’ll just have to wait and see what all the buzz is about.
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