Queen’s beekeeper breaks news of death to hives in unique superstition

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Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for 70 years, passed away peacefully at her Scottish residence of Balmoral at the age of 96. Following the monarch’s death, the royal beekeeper carried out an arcane tradition which is said to date back centuries by informing the hives kept in Buckingham Palace and Clarence House about the Queen’s death.

He also informed the bees, in hushed tones, that their new master is King Charles III.

John Chapple, 79, even placed black ribbons on the hives as he travelled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday following news of the Queen’s death.

The unusual tradition comes from an old superstition which suggests not telling them about the change could lead the bees to produce less honey.

Mr Chapple told MailOnline: “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.

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“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.”

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.”

“‘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.

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“It’s up to the new tenant of Buckingham Palace.”

John takes care of predominantly Dark European Honey bees, specifically London mongrels.

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