Royal Beekeeping

Princess of Wales tends her beehives in keeper’s suit

The Princess keeps bees at Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham estate, where each batch of honey has its own distinct flavour

By Patrick Sawer,

The Princess of Wales is photographed wearing a bee suit.

An invitation to one of the garden parties at Buckingham Palace has always been regarded as quite the hot ticket.

But the invite will now be all the sweeter, following revelations that the honey being served to guests as part of the refreshments may well have been produced by royal hands.

To mark World Bee Day on Saturday May 20 and promote the importance of bees to the biodiversity of the planet, the palace released a photograph of the Princess of Wales busy tending to her hives in Norfolk.

The Princess of Wales keeps bees at Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham estate, where each batch of honey has its own distinct flavour depending on where the beehives are situated at time of collection, including lime from the trees which line the roads, or heather and lavender.

She brought a jar of the honey from the hives for schoolchildren to try on a visit to the Natural History Museum’s new biodiversity hub in June 2021.

The firm’s founders Brian and Pat Sherriff had previously designed military uniforms, but turned to making beekeeping equipment after setting up South Cornwall Honey Farm in the mid-1960s, which now has 400 colonies.

World Bee Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of bees, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development.

Apiary enthusiasm runs in the family

The Princess of Wales is not the only royal happy to don a beekeeper’s jacket and protective hood to gather the sweet harvest.

The Queen is also a keen apiarist, and keeps bees at Raymill, her six-bedroom retreat in Lacock, Wiltshire, 17 miles from the King’s Highgrove home.

During a visit to Launceston, Cornwall, last summer Queen Camilla met honey-producers selling jars in the town square, and told them she was a hands-on beekeeper and had only lost one colony during the previous winter.

King Charles in Argentina wearing a beekeeper suit for a visit to see bee keeping at Buenas Ondas organic vegetable garden CREDIT: Tim Graham

Honey produced by the Queen’s bees is sold at Fortnum & Mason to raise funds for charity. This year’s recipient is Nigeria’s first sexual assault referral centre, which the Queen supports as patron.

She is also president of Bees for Development, a charity training beekeepers and protecting bee habitats in more than 50 countries.

Buckingham Palace itself is home to four beehives on an island in a lake in the garden, and there are two hives in Clarence House’s garden.

These hives produced more than 300 jars of honey last year for the palace kitchens, which is frequently served to guests in honey madeleines, as a filling for chocolate truffles or in honey and cream sponge.

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