Queen Elizabeth II’s bees knowledgeable of her demise, as a part of a long-standing beekeeping custom


One British colony acquired particular correspondence about Queen Elizabeth II’s demise final week – not from Buckingham Palace, however the Palace beekeeper.

The superstitious and considerably cute custom of ‘telling the bees’ of a demise within the household has been half rural British folklore for hundreds of years.

It was no completely different for the demise of Britain’s longest reigning monarch.

How have been the Queen’s bees informed?

Palace beekeeper, John Chapple, informed Mail On-line he travelled to Clarence Home and Buckingham Palace on Friday to inform the seven bee hives.

“I am on the hives now and it’s conventional when somebody dies that you simply go to the hives and say a bit of prayer and put a black ribbon on the hive,” the 79-year-old mentioned.

“I drape the hives with black ribbon with a bow.”

Mr Chapple mentioned he delivered the identical message at each areas, in hushed tones.

“You knock on every hive and say, ‘The mistress is lifeless, however do not you go. Your grasp will likely be a superb grasp to you,” he mentioned.

Queen Elizabeth II was reportedly a bee fanatic. (AP: Andrew Matthews)

How previous is that this custom?

Throughout the UK and Europe, many 18th and nineteenth century magazines, diary entries and work confer with the customized of telling the bees.

However the observe could have its origins in Celtic mythology, which held that bees have been intermediaries between our world and the spirit world.

Why do they inform the bees?

Whether or not it’s a start, demise or marriage, the bees have been be informed about all essential occasions of their keeper’s lives.

It was believed beekeepers had a robust connections with the bees, in order that they deserved to be handled like household, and mourn them once they died. 

The next stanzas from the poem Telling the Bees, written in 1858 by American John Greenleaf Whittier, depict the essential observe:  

Earlier than them, below the backyard wall,

Ahead and again

Went, drearily singing, the chore-girl small,

Draping every hive with a shred of black.

Trembling, I listened; the summer season solar

Had the chilliness of snow;

For I knew she was telling the bees of 1

Gone on the journey all of us should go!

“Keep at house, fairly bees, fly not therefore!

Mistress Mary is lifeless and gone!

A painting of a mother and child in a lush green field with houses in background walking besides bee colonies in small huts
A widow and her son telling the bees of a demise within the household. (Wikimedia Commons)

What occurs if the bees aren’t informed?

Within the occasion of a demise, the bees have been to be put into mourning. 

This concerned draping the hives in black fabric, leaving funeral meals beside them and relaying information of the demise quietly.

But when the bees weren’t knowledgeable, or put into morning, it was believed they may cease producing honey, sting their subsequent keeper, or die.

The Queen’s Bees

Queen Elizabeth II was reportedly a bee fanatic, and had plenty of hives on the Palace grounds for a few years.

In accordance with the experiences, The Royal Household cooks used the honey of their cooking and offered any leftovers to fundraise for charities.

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