The Queen's official beekeeper has informed palace bees of her death in a quirky tradition thought to date back centuries.
John Chapple, 79, told the hives of bees kept at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House their new master is King Charles III.
And in keeping with the bizarre ritual, he delivered the news to the palace pollinators in hushed tones.
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John made the poignant journey to the royal residences on Friday after news of the Queen’s death on September 8.
Black ribbons were then tied in bows on the hives, where thousands of bees live to carry out the superstitious ritual which saw him tell them the Queen had died and a new master would now be in charge.
He then urged the bees to be good to their new master the King, who himself was once famed for talking to plants.
John told Mail Online: "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?"
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It is thought the strange ritual dates back to a centuries-old superstition that not telling them of a change of owner would lead to the bees not producing honey, leaving the hive or even dying.
John, who has been the official palace beekeeper for 15 years, added: "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'."
Amazingly, he didn't realise he had turned up for an interview for the job when he was given the role.
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He added: "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.
"I’m retired. I’m 79. It’s my hobby, beekeeping. And now I look after a few hives for important people.
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"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 has been a wonderful privilege to do things like this for the Queen and hopefully now for the King."
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