Bee Life

The Bee-List: 5 famous British beekeepers

Bees are pollinators we simply couldn’t live without. They provide a buzzing backdrop to summer and are crucial to the balance of the Earth’s ecosystem and food crops, plus they produce delicious honey for us to enjoy.

This incredible species needs our help to safeguard their future but the exciting news is, as a nation we’re waking up to the awe-inspiring work these powerful pollinators do, with UK Google searches for beehives in the past five years peaking during lockdown. In this exciting buzz of activity, we’ve picked up several famous faces that have caught the beekeeping bug, using their platforms to spotlight this incredible species and highlight their welfare.

We are committed to help protect the incredible honey bees through our Hives for Lives programme of vital initiatives and have compiled inspiring British ‘A-list turned Bee-listers’ who deserve a hive high-five. Who knows, their impressive efforts may even inspire you to become a bee buddy!

1. David Beckham

He’s famous for his bee-rilliant football skills, but recently David Beckham (or should we say Bee-ckham) has embraced beekeeping life at his Cotswolds home. His handywork has seen him build a hive in his garden and his whole family has joined in on the fun – in their protective bee suits of course! That’s the beauty of beekeeping — no matter what your age, it’s never too late to learn about bees or even join the hive of 32,000 amateur beekeepers here in the UK. No doubt we’ll be seeing more beekeeping updates from David as the family look forward to their first honey crop.

2. The Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall may be used to socialising with Queens of the human kind, but she’s still found time to show love to Queen Bees too. She agrees that “bees are vital to the natural world and an essential part of our fragile ecology”, channelling this keen interest into the age-old tradition of beekeeping as a hobby herself in 2010. The Duchess of Cornwall is also the first appointed President of Bees for Development (BFD) — an international charity committed to alleviating poverty through beekeeping and one of our Hives For Lives partners. Each year the funds raised from the sale of The Duchess of Cornwall’s honey crop from her Wiltshire hives are donated to charity, with the BFD specially selected this year. It’s fair to say bees have the royal stamp of approval!

3. Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran may be musically talented bee-yond belief, but as he’s stepped back from the limelight, he’s swapped his guitar for a bee suit! At his sprawling Suffolk estate, Ed is believed to have installed a beehive and is keen to make his own honey. The average age of a bee farmer in the UK is 65, so it’s bee-rilliant to see Ed creating a buzz around beekeeping for younger generations. Feeling inspired? Our world-class apprenticeship scheme with the Bee Farmers Association also aims to recruit and train the next generation of young British bee farmers.

4. Jeremy Clarkson

Having been motivated by fellow celebrity beekeeper Morgan Freeman, Jeremy has taken up beekeeping because he believes bees are “the cornerstone of everything” and the “planet’s keystone species”. That’s why he’s now also the proud owner of 250,000 of them. In 21 days alone, these quarter of a million bees produced 20lbs of honey – now they really are busy bees.

5. James Middleton

Not one but two stars with royal connections have made The Bee-List. Now, James may not technically be a royal but he’s as close as they come, and it’s all thanks to his sisters — Pippa Middleton and the Duchess of Cambridge — that he now practices beekeeping as a hobby. After years of longing to keep bees, James’ wish became reality when his sisters gifted him 1,000 Buckfast bees for his birthday almost a decade ago. He now looks after an impressive half a million bees in eight hives, who produce 50-100 jars of honey each year which he gifts to friends and family. He also speaks of beekeeping as being therapeutic for him: “I love spending time with my bees, checking, monitoring, treating them and collecting their honey: it is soothing toil; a balm for troubled minds.”

These stars take bee care to the next level, but there’s no need for a fancy bee suit to play your part. Simply planting bee-friendly flowers like sunflowers, lavender or borage (a window box is perfect if you’re limited for space!) can help to feed the bees and protect them. Letting an area of your garden grow wild and giving bees a small water source to drink from are other valuable ways to offer hive help and join these well-known Bee-listers in supporting the British bee population.

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