The hives of bees that reside within the gardens of Buckingham Palace have been informed of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
In keeping with one of the stranger traditions connected to the British royal family, the palace’s official beekeeper broke the news of Her Majesty’s death at the age of 96 to the roughly 30,000 bees currently on the grounds, with the royal beekeeper also tying black ribbons around the hives in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.
John Chapple, who has been the royal beekeeper for 15 years, told the Daily Mail Friday that he was also tasked with informing the bees that King Charles III is their “new master” and that they should “treat him well.”
“I’m at the hives now and 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,” Chapple added of the ritual.
“The person who has died is the master or mistress of the hives, someone important in the family who dies and you don’t get any more important than the Queen, do you? 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.’ I’ve done the hives at Clarence House and I’m now in Buckingham Palace doing their hives.”
Queen Elizabeth II was reportedly a bee enthusiast, keeping hives on the grounds of several properties, which produced a sufficient enough amount of honey for the Royal Family’s chefs to use; excess honey was jarred as “Buckingham Palace Gardens Honey” and sold off for charity, the Express reported in 2021.
According to the Daily Mail, beekeeping is also a royal tradition in European countries like Germany, France, Netherlands and Ireland, and that — superstitiously — not informing the hives of the death of a king or queen could result in the exodus of the entire colony of bees.