One of the magical things about beekeeping is the vast group of people that it appeals to. Beekeeping has permeated through all social classes, from the lower classes to the elite. You may be surprised to find some prominent celebrities and historical figures enjoy beekeeping. Read on to find out if your favorite writer, actor or musician is a beekeeper!
Famous, Celebrity and Historic Beekeepers
Martha has been a beekeeper since the 1970s. She has a number of hives, as well as a personal beekeeper (sounds a lot like our Host-A-Hive program!).
Read more about Martha’s hives here.
Sir Edmund Hillary
Before becoming the first to summit Mt Everest in 1953, Hillary was a commercial beekeeper at his father’s bee farm in Tuakau, New Zealand. Ed enjoyed beekeeping as it allowed him time in the winter months to pursue his mountaineering passion.
Source: May 29, 1953: Mt. Everest Conquered By Beekeeper, Local Climber
The first President kept bees at his Mount Vernon estate, as did a number of his slaves. One record shows Washington had purchased honey from his carpenters Sambo and Isaac, blacksmith Nat, and overseer Davy. Honey was reported to be George’s favorite food.
The lead singer of Madness is a self reported “experienced urban beekeeper”, who involves himself in several bee friendly organizations.
As experienced urban beekeepers my wife and I know how fascinating keeping these amazing creatures can be and how important it is to look after them in managed hives like the one at The Premises Studios. Beekeeping is a crucial part of looking after our environment so both the bees and our planet continue to thrive”.
Source: Premise Studios
Leo Tolstoy is the author of War and Peace. Tolstoy had many hives at this Russian home, and his wife Sonja reports that beekeeping was his life’s passion.
Sonja talked of him “crouching in front of his hives, net over his head.” and she wrote in her diary, “The apiary has become the centre of the world for him now, and everybody has to be interested exclusively in Bees!”
Beekeeping is even referenced in War and Peace, found in chapter 20 (read the excerpt here courtesy of BadBeekeepingBlog.com) as well as in the epilogue (read here).
Ms. Garner recently started beekeeping after her daughter became enthralled by a beekeeping book. She shares her love for bees quite often on her Instagram. Her celebrity status seems to hardly have impacted her as she also enjoys raising her own chickens!
See her interview with Jimmy Kimmel about her beekeeping exploits and her Instagram.
Maria Von Trapp
Maria, known around the world for her role in The Sound of Music, loved bees as well.
When Maria escaped Austria and moved to the US in 1939, she established a farm in Vermont complete with honey bees. Her farm is still in operation, and open to the public as the Trapp Family Lodge
When Scarlett married Ryan Reynolds in 2009, the actress was gifted a beehive by Samuel L. Jackson. “Scarlett was always talking about how the bees were dying and the planet was going to die,” actor Samuel L. Jackson told the Independent. Although their marriage did not last, her passion for beekeeping continues.
Introduced to beekeeping by his mother’s boyfriend, DiCaprio took up beekeeping to manage stress that accompanied being an actor. He even built his own hives for his garden in Las Angeles!
Source: The Express Tribune
One of the greatest philosophers, Aristotle wrote about bees many times. In Historia Animalium, or the History of Animals, Aristotle records many observations of bees from the perspective of the beekeeper. Once can therefore assume that he kept bees, or at least made observations in a cohorts hive.
Read the entire History of Animals here
An American author and Novelist, Mr. Theroux is best known for The Great Railway Bazaar. Paul keeps bees at his Hawaiian retreat, Oceana Ranch.
Sylvia Plath was an American poet and beekeeper. Her father, Otto Plath, was the authority on bumblebees writing Bumblebees and Their Ways in 1934. In 1962, only months before her death, Sylvia wrote several poems about bees. You can read more about Plath and her poems here.
Flea, the bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, started keeping bees in 2014. He has 3 hives he tends to with his mentor Ruth.
Read more about Flea’s bees or see his Facebook beekeeping photo.
Have you ever wondered why Utah is called the Beehive state? You can thank the Salt Lake founder and Mormon Brigham Young.
And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.” Ether 2:3
The beehive, being a symbol of harmony, cooperation and work, was used as a symbol to inspire early Church members to work together to develop Salt Lake from a barren land to a thriving community. So symbolic that the beehive (a skep) was adorned on the Salt Lake Temple doors.
Source: Visit Salt Lake and LDS.org
The former third President of Ukraine had a nickname, “Pasechnik” or “beekeeper” in Russian. Enjoying beekeeping since his childhood, he is now retired and living on his country estate surrounded by beehives.
Source: Georgian Journal
Famous guitarist for Zappa and David Lee Roth among others, Steve keeps bees at his Encino estate. He labels his honey under the name “Fire Garden Honey”, however it is only given to friends and family and is not for sale.
Read Steve’s Hive Updates here.
Have you heard of those silly things called genetics? Gregor Mendel was the Austrian Monk known as the “Father of Genetics” and a pioneer who discovered the basic principles of hereditary in the late 1800’s.
His passion for genetics spilled over into his hobby of beekeeping, designing beehives and breeding strains of bees for honey production.
Source: Biography.com and DNALC.org
Agnes was the sister of Lord Robert Baden Powell who founded the Scout movement, which later became the Boy Scouts. Agnes followed her brothers influence and founded the Girl Scouts. An avid naturalist, she loved bees so much that she had a beehive inside of her house.
Source: The Guide Zone
Henry Fonda may have loved bees more than acting! His self proclaimed “Hanks Bel-air hive” in his Bel-air estate, he claims he has the best honey around. Fonda was also known to gift honey to his coworkers and those that invited him and his wife to dinner.
Source: Ocala Star-Banner – June 9, 1980
Beekeepers who aren’t
We have seen so many articles reporting that certain individuals are beekeepers, however, they aren’t quite accurate.
The first lady was not a beekeeper herself, however it was during her time in the White House that the first beehive took residence. In 2009 the White House chef, Sam Kass, asked Charlie Brandts, then member of the carpentry staff and hobby beekeeper, to place a beehive near Michelle’s’ garden. Following the hives success, Brandts became the White House beekeeper.
In 2011, Benedict XVI was gifted 8 beehives which were placed on the 50 acre papal villa farm in the town of Castel Gandolfo. Unfortunately, those bees did not fare well due to extreme weather.
Source: National Catholic Reporter
Ryan may have been considered a beekeeper by association. As mentioned earlier, Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson received a beehive from Samuel L. Jackson as a wedding gift.
In an interview with Metro, Reynolds replies
Well, we definitely had a conversation about bees. I’m not involved in any bee movement, it was just idle chit-chat. It was basically a wedding present. We live in a very green household and we do as much as we can to leave as small a footprint as possible. So somewhere in the back of Sam’s mind, he must have thought: “The best gift I can give this guy is a swarm of bees”.”Source: Metro
Morgan Freeman began keeping bees in 2014 after turning his 124 acres Mississippi ranch into a bee refuge. Starting with a mere 26 hives, Morgan also planted acres of clover, magnolia trees and lavender for the bees. Although he does involve himself in the beekeeping tasks, the majority of the responsibility falls on his gardener. When working with his bees, Freeman chooses not to wear gloves in order to be “one with the bees”.
Read more about Morgan Freeman talking about his bees on Jimmy Fallon: http://patriotcaller.com/morgan-freeman-great-actor-narrator-and-beekeeper/ Or read more about Morgan Freeman’s bees.
Do you know of anyone else who should be on this list? Add it to the comments and we will research it!
Monday 1st of August 2022
Beyonce, Oprah, George Washington Carver, and Booker T. Washington. All well known beekeepers.