Thursday, September 22, 2022

Telling the Bees

 When Queen Elizabeth died, her bees were informed. From Wikiwand:

Telling the bees is a tradition in many European countries in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper's lives such as births, marriages and departures and returns in the household. If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not "put into mourning" then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees leaving their hive, stopping the production of honey or dying.[1]

Little is known about the origins of this practice, although there is some unfounded speculation that it is loosely derived from or perhaps inspired by ancient Aegean notions about bees' ability to bridge the natural world and the afterlife.[2]

The custom is best known in England but has also been recorded in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Bohemia and the United States.[3][4][2][5][6] One Lincolnshire report from the mid 19th century notes,

At all weddings and funerals they give a piece of the wedding-cake or funeral biscuit to the bees, informing them at the same time of the name of the party married or dead. If the bees do not know of the former, they become very irate, and sting every body within their reach; and if they are ignorant of the latter they become sick, and many of them die.[7]

After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Beekeeper, John Chapple, informed the bees of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of her passing and the ascension of King Charles III.[8] Chapple described the practice to the press as such: "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.'"[9] (Read more.)


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