Queen Elizabeth II’s royal beekeeper has finally informed the hives that their queen has died.
On Friday, 79-year-old John Chapple travelled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House to break the news at his wife Kath’s behest.
But rather than tell the millions of bees individually, he carried out a centuries-old tradition that saw him whispering to the hives that their new master is King Charles III.
Bizarre ancient beekeeper customs say if bees are not informed of their master’s death calamity could strike.
There were once fears the bees might go on strike and no longer make honey. Some would vow never to work again or even perish in a serious show of loyalty to their old master.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, Chapple spent his day saying ‘little prayers’ in front of the palace’s five Dark European Honey bee hives and two in Clarence House.
Chapple didn’t tie black armbands on each of the bees but instead draped black bows around the hives to signify the bees are in mourning for their late master.
This means that the bees can get the day off to attend the Queen’s funeral as they could now be formally invited.
Chapple told MailOnline: ‘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.”‘
The honey made is used by chefs to make treats like honey madeleines which are served to guests at summer garden parties.
But Chapple hopes that the new King does not choose to evict the bereaving bees altogether.
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‘It has been a wonderful privilege to do things like this for the Queen and hopefully now for the King,’ Chapple, who has been in the role for 15 years, said.
‘I hope they still want to keep the bees on their premises. You never know. They might say, take them away but I don’t think that will happening though really you do never know.
‘It’s up to the new tenant of Buckingham Palace.’
‘Telling the Bees’ is a piece of folklore that stretches back to 18th and 19th century Europe.
It sees beekeepers knock on the hives and sing to their bees when their master had a child, married or someone in the household has left.
It remains unknown, however, if Buckingham Palace workers have informed the rest of the palace garden’s residents, such as the 112 types of spiders and 58 bird species.
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