The Royal beekeeper has informed the Queen’s bees of her death that King Charles is their new boss.
In an arcane tradition believed to date back centuries, John Chapple, the royal beekeper travelled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday to notify the hives, kept in the grounds, that the Queen had died..
BYPASS THE CENSORS
Sign up to get unfiltered news delivered straight to your inbox.
During the superstitious ritual using hushed tones, he also told the bees that King Charles is now their new boss and urged them to be good.
The Mail Online reports: He placed black ribbons tied into bows on the hives, home to tens of thousands of bees, before informing them that their mistress had died and that a new master would be in charge from now on.
He then urged the bees to be good to their new master – himself once famed for talking to plants.
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.
Speaking from the Buckingham Palace gardens, Mr Chapple told Mailonline: ’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.
‘I drape the hives with black ribbon with a bow.
‘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.’
At the height of summer, Mr Chapple takes care of over a million bees though by late summer their numbers have dropped.
He said: ‘In Clarence House there are two hives and in Buckingham Palace there are five.
‘At this time of year each hive contains 20,000 each, maybe a bit more but I’m not very good at counting them. It’s over a million in the summer.’
Mr Chapple revealed he has been the official palace beekeeper for 15 years despite not realising he had turned up for an interview for the job.
He said: ‘I got an email from the head gardener here at Buckingham Palace to come here and talk about bees.
‘I thought they had a problem with bees but it turned out they wanted to keep bees so henceforth I look after the bees here.’
He added: ‘I’m retired. I’m 79. It’s my hobby, beekeeping and now I look after a few hives for important people.
‘Number one is the Queen, or rather was, the Queen.
‘I was the Queen’s beekeeper and hopefully now I’ll get the job of being the King’s beekeeper.
‘It’s been about 15 years that I have been in the role.