Royal Beekeeper Had to Inform Queen Elizabeth's Bees of Her Death: 'It Is Traditional'

John Chapple told the bees that King Charles is their "new master" following the death of the late monarch

Queen Elizabeth II at the Aberdeen Bee Keepers Association
Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images/Getty

Goodbye to the Queen Bee.

The royal beekeeper, John Chapple, told The Daily Mail that he informed the tens of thousands of bees residing in hives at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House that King Charles is their "new master" after Queen Elizabeth died on September 8.

The ritual is part of a tradition in which bees must be told of change in ownership; otherwise, they will no longer produce honey and will leave the hive, according to the outlet. The tradition is best known in England, but also happens in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Bohemia and the United States.

"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," Chapple shared.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Aberdeen Bee Keepers Association
Andrew Milligan/PA Images/Getty

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He continued, "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."

Chapple — who has been the royal beekeeper for 15 years — hopes that bees continue to have a home on royals grounds.

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"It has been a wonderful privilege to do things like this for the Queen and hopefully now for the King," he said.

"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," he added. "It's up to the new tenant of Buckingham Palace."

princess kate
Samir Hussein/Wireimage

Kate Middleton has revealed she has an interest in bees as well. Last year, she brought a special treat for the local schoolchildren she met: homemade honey from Anmer Hall, the Norfolk home where she enjoys time in the country with Prince William and their three children: Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.

"Would you like to try some? This came specially from my beehive," she told the kids, according to a report from the event. "Does it taste like honey from the shops? Does it taste like flowers?"

The children smiled as they licked spoons of the tasty treat.

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