Queen Elizabeth's bees informed of her death in bizarre tradition

for Tv47 Digital September 16, 2022, 05:05 PM
Queen Elizabeth's bees were informed of her death.
Late Queen Elizabeth II with her bees at Buckingham Palace grounds. PHOTO/COURTESY

When Queen Elizabeth II died, the royal beekeeper at Buckingham Palace grounds "informed them of her demise."

According to a report in the British newspaper the 'Daily Mail', this is part of royal tradition to alert the buzzing insects that they now have a new master - King Charles III. 

"It is traditional when someone dies that you go to the hives and say a little prayer and put a black ribbon on the hive," John Chapple, the Royal beekeeper is quoted by the newspaper as saying. 

"The strange ritual is underpinned by an old superstition that not to tell them of a change of owner would lead to the bees not producing honey, leaving the hive or even dying," notes the 'Mail'. 

The hives are draped with a black ribbon to signify mourning. 

"‘You knock on each hive and say, ‘The mistress is dead, but don't you go. Your master will be a good master to you',"  Chapple adds. 

The numerous hives contain about 20,000 bees each. 

Telling the bees about important events in their keepers' lives is a custom in many European countries. These events include births, marriages, or deaths. 

"If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not ‘put into mourning’ then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees leaving their hive, stopping the production of honey or dying," writes the 'Mail'. 

The custom is common in England, but is occasionally observed in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Bohemia and the United States.


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