James Middleton, the brother of Duchess Catherine and her sister Pippa Middleton, has opened up about his unusual hobby - and the very generous gift his siblings and their parents gave him to help kickstart this lifelong passion.
In a new column for the Daily Mail, the 33-year-old wrote about his intense love of beekeeping and the delight he experiences in caring for the half a million bees he owns.
"I've been a passionate advocate of these ingenious, industrious little creatures since I became a beekeeper myself nearly a decade ago, having fallen for them as a child," James wrote.
"I now have almost half a million bees in eight hives in a meadow at our family home. And I've whiled away many happy hours with them during lockdown. I'm in awe of these incredible insects."
James said he's always wanted a bee colony of his own - and almost a decade ago, his family helped make his beekeeping dreams come true.
"I'd always harboured a longing to keep bees, but it wasn't until I turned 24 in 2011 that the wish became reality. 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," he wrote.
"A delivery van arrived with a large buzzing box with the cautionary label: 'Live Bees'. Inside was the nucleus — the start — of my colony: 1,000 Buckfast bees."
James explained that a new hive of been costs around £500 or $AU900, so it was certainly a very generous birthday gift!
James, who now makes his own honey and gives away "most of the 50 to 100 jars I make each year as presents to friends", admits he has been stung many times by his bees - but only thanks to his own carelessness.
"I've been stung hundreds of times — actually the reaction tends to get worse over time — but I'm not put off and I never blame the bees," James said.
"It's always my fault: I haven't been careful enough; I've been lazy about wearing the protective equipment; I've caught them on a day when they're feeling grumpy or out of sorts."
This isn't the fist time James has publicly gushed about his love for bees.
In an Instagram post in August 2019, James spoke highly of the meditative and mental health benefits of beekeeping.
He has been very open about his battles with intense depression and anxiety over the years, and explained that tending to his bees help reduce his symptoms.
"Bee keeping to me is a meditation. It's a chance to escape my mind and be so consumed by something that hours can pass by without knowing it," he wrote.
"Meditation is a wonderful tool to help with stress, anxiety, depression and doesn't just need to be practised sitting down!"
James is currently engaged to his fiancée Alizzee Thevenet.
The pair were set to get married this year but have been forced to cancel their wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic.
WATCH BELOW: See how James Middleton announced his engagement to Alizee Thevenet.