|Even the royal bees are mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II. In a new report from The Daily Mail, royal beekeeper John Chapple revealed that he was required to inform the royal hive at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of Queen Elizabeth’s passing in accordance with a tradition that dates back centuries. “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 said.
In addition to informing them of the Queen’s death, the official beekeeper also alerted the bees of their new master, King Charles III.
Chapple explained the process to the publication, saying, “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.’”
According to The Daily Mail, this tradition stems from a superstition that if the bees are not informed of the change in monarch, then they might stop producing honey, or even die. Chapple, who has been the royal beekeeper for 15 years, was clearly not going to be the one to let this custom fade away. “I was the Queen’s beekeeper and hopefully now I’ll get the job of being the King’s beekeeper,” he added.
In the past, it’s been revealed that the palace has enough bees to provide the family with a year’s supply of honey. On World Bee Day in 2020, the official royal family Instagram shared a post that explained, “Buckingham Palace is home to four Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera ligustica) hives. The bees live on an island in the Palace gardens and forage on a wealth of nectar plants, both native and exotic.”
It added, “During the season, the bees produce enough honey for the palace to be self-sufficient, with over 200 jars produced [in 2019]. The honey is used by Palace chefs throughout the year at Garden Parties and receptions, where it is served in honey madeleines, as a filling for chocolate truffles and in honey and cream sponge.”
Let’s hope the bees understood Chapple’s message loud and clear.