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Brother to royalty, outdoor enthusiast and dog food entrepreneur James Middleton just revealed his sister’s a pretty great gift-giver.

In an article written for the Daily Mail, Middleton detailed his ongoing passion for beekeeping, a hobby that all began with a birthday gift from his family (including Duchess Kate).

“While I’ve been intrigued by the natural world for as long as I can remember,” Middleton says, “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. 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.”

Now, almost ten years later, Middleton says caring for his eight-hive apiary (which he says houses almost half a million bees!) is “a balm for troubled minds,” particularly during the current COVID-19 lockdown. He also says the hobby has helped him cope with depression: “I’ve written in this paper about the clinical depression that first hit me in 2016,” he continues, “and one of my strategies for coping with it is beekeeping. I see it as an active form of meditation, a chance to escape from mental tumult. When I’m with my bees it’s as if someone’s pressed the mute button on everything that’s worrying me.” He says his fiancée, Alizee Thevenet, is also a beekeeping convert and suits up to help him with the hives.

If you scroll through Middleton’s Instagram—past the heartbreakingly cute puppy pictures—you’ll find he shared similar sentiments last summer. Beekeeping as meditation, huh? We might have to try that out sometime.

In any case, this makes the framed photo we gifted our sis for her birthday look like nothing.

RELATED: Kate Middleton Just Broke Royal Protocol...with Her Shoes

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