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Royal beekeeper has informed the Queen’s bees that HM has passed away and that King Charles is their new boss

The royal beekeeper – in a mysterious tradition dating back centuries – informed the beehives in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen’s death.

And the bees have also been told in hushed tones that their new master is now King Charles III.

The official Palace beekeeper, John Chapple, 79, told MailOnline how he traveled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday following news of the Queen’s death to perform the superstitious ritual.

He hung black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, where tens of thousands of bees lived, before informing them that their mistress had died and that from now on a new master would come.

He then urged the bees to be kind to their new master – he was once famous for talking to plants.

The strange ritual is supported by an ancient superstition that the bees won’t produce honey, leave the hive, or even die if they’re not told of a change of ownership.

Royal beekeeper John Chapple, 79 (right) - in a mysterious tradition dating back centuries - has informed the beehives in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen's death

Royal beekeeper John Chapple, 79 (right) – in a mysterious tradition dating back centuries – has informed the beehives in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen’s death

1662814820 984 Royal beekeeper has informed the Queens bees that HM has

1662814820 984 Royal beekeeper has informed the Queens bees that HM has

The bees have also been told in hushed tones that their new master is now King Charles III

Speaking from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Mr Chapple told MailOnline: ‘I’m at the beehives now and it’s traditional when someone dies that you go to the beehives and say a little prayer and put a black ribbon on the beehive.

‘I drape the cabinets with black ribbon with a bow.

‘The person who has died is the master or mistress of the beehives, someone important in the family who dies and you don’t become more important than the queen, do you?

“You knock on every beehive and say, ‘The mistress is dead, but don’t go. Your master will be a good master to you.’

“I’ve done the beehives at Clarence House and I’m now at Buckingham Palace doing their beehives.”

At the height of summer, Mr. Chapple cares for over a million bees, but by the end of summer their numbers have declined.

He said: ‘In Clarence House there are two beehives and in Buckingham Palace there are five.

“At this time of year, each basket contains 20,000, maybe a little more, but I’m not very good at counting them. In the summer there are more than a million.’

Mr Chapple revealed that he has been the official beekeeper of the palace for 15 years, although he did not realize 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 from now on I’ll take care of the bees here.”

Chappelle traveled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday following news of the Queen's death to perform the superstitious ritual.

Chappelle traveled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday following news of the Queen's death to perform the superstitious ritual.

Chappelle traveled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday following news of the Queen’s death to perform the superstitious ritual.

1662814821 404 Royal beekeeper has informed the Queens bees that HM has

1662814821 404 Royal beekeeper has informed the Queens bees that HM has

He added: ‘I am retired. I’m 79. It’s my hobby, beekeeping and now I look after some closets for important people.

“Number one is the queen, or rather was the queen.

“I was the queen’s beekeeper and hopefully I’ll get the king’s beekeeper job now.

“It’s been about 15 years that I’ve been in the role.

‘In total, I have been caring for bees for more than 30 years. It started because of my wife’s love for honey.

“So I bought her a book called Keeping Bees In The Back Garden. She read the book and said, “Well, it’s up to you now”. So I was given the task of keeping bees in my house and it just came out of that.

“It’s been a great hobby and interest and it’s taken me all over the world. I have met great people and seen beautiful sights that only beekeepers can ever see.

‘I am now on the island in Buckingham Palace and there is not a living soul that I can see.

‘I hear some birds and traffic and that’s it.

“It was a great privilege to do things like this for the Queen and hopefully now for the King.

‘I hope they want to keep the bees on their property after all. You never know. They might say take them away, but I don’t think that will happen, although you never know.

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

He hung black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, where tens of thousands of bees lived, before informing them that their mistress had died and that from now on a new master would come.  He then urged the bees to be kind to their new master

He hung black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, where tens of thousands of bees lived, before informing them that their mistress had died and that from now on a new master would come.  He then urged the bees to be kind to their new master

He hung black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, where tens of thousands of bees lived, before informing them that their mistress had died and that from now on a new master would come. He then urged the bees to be kind to their new master

John cares for mostly dark European honey bees, especially London bastards.

These have been native to mainland Britain since before the closure of the Channel Landbridge, when sea levels rose after the last ice age.

Telling the bees is a traditional practice in many European countries where bees would be informed about important events in the lives of their caretakers, such as births, marriages or departure and return to the household.

If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not ‘put into mourning’, it was believed that a fine would be paid, such as leaving their hive, stopping honey production, or dying.

The custom is best known in England, but has also been recorded in Ireland, Wales, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Bohemia, and the United States.

Mr. Chapple’s wife, Kath, who sent John away for the day to inform the bees of the sad news of the Queen’s death, said, “The tradition is that you gently tap the hive and say your mistress or master is dead, but your new master will be good to you so treat him well.’

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