Elizabeth II, the royal beekeeper announces to the bees of Buckingham Palace: "The queen is dead, but don't go away"

Elizabeth II, the royal beekeeper announces to the bees of Buckingham Palace: “The queen is dead, but don’t go away”

The announcement of Queen Elizabeth II’s death went around the world instantly, and even reached her bees. The royal beekeeper, John Chapple, informed them of the death of the sovereign and the arrival of a new “owner”, Charles III, who went in person to inform them: “It is tradition when someone dies that you go to the hives and say a little prayer by putting a black ribbon on the hive – says Chapple explaining the ritual -. He knocks on each hive and you say, “The mistress is dead, but don’t go away. Your master will be a good master for you. ‘

According to an ancient superstition, in fact, if not informed, bees no longer produce honey. A centuries-old tradition that should have Celtic roots and that has spread as a folkloric form in England, Wales, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and some parts of the United States.

In Celtic mythology, bees were considered to be messengers between this world and the spirit realm. One story goes that when the Gregorian calendar was adopted, the bees were not kept up and refused to hum the new Christmas day.

There are five hives in Buckingham Palace, and two more are in Clarence House, with around 20,000 bees each. The ritual foresees that the beekeeper puts on each of them a black ribbon, knocks delicately and in a soft voice announces to them: «The mistress is dead, but you don’t go. Your master will be good for you ». Likewise, an appeal to them “to be good to the new master” follows.

Chapple, 79, has been a royal beekeeper for 15 years, who came to work for Elizabeth II without having to undergo any interview or presentation of a CV: called by the royal gardener, he took care of the bees. And now, with the arrival of Charles III, he hopes to stay. It was “an extraordinary privilege” to work for the queen, he said, and the hope is that “they still want to keep them on their possessions.”

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