Royal Beekeeper Whispers the Sad News About the Queen

This week’s news about the death of the longest reigning monarch in England’s history stirred emotions as the mourning of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing began. As her casket is now in a location where the public can come and honor her, people are lining up and spending hours waiting to be close to this popular and loved monarch.

If a drone had flown over the Buckingham Palace grounds and captured images of the queen’s beehives, it would have revealed the royal hives adorned in black ribbons, and possibly the royal beekeeper stopping at each hive. It was an age-old tradition that the royal beekeepers must formally notify the royal bees of the sad news after the queen’s passing. Although it is not likely the bee’s mourning would have been evident to the naked eye after receiving the information from the royal beekeeper, the tradition remains because not doing so is thought to result in stubborn bees and the royal hives’ demise. It is said that not notifying the bees of the changing of a monarch or other major life events has not served the royal family well in the past.

Notifying the Bees is Tradition

Details of how the Royal Family is handling the loss of a monarch leave some Americans intrigued by the extensive measures taken to keep traditions going, their reasons, and the formality in which they are carried out. The monarchy is deeply rooted in tradition, including superstitions. Notifying the royal bees of a monarch’s passing is an age-old tradition, and Queen Elizabeth II’s passing was no exception. The royal beekeeper stuck to the book when it came to honoring Queen Elizabeth II by formally notifying the royal bees.

Maybe it was a bit harder this time, as the beekeeper whispered to each hive, knowing how much Queen Elizabeth II loved the bees. The royal beekeeper is charged with knocking on each hive first and then delivering the sad news of the queen’s passing. In staying with tradition, the royal beekeeper also pleaded with the bees to remain under the new King and ensured their continued care.

The Adored and Important Royal Bees

Queen Elizabeth II was a lover of nature. During her reign, she visited the hives on the grounds of Buckingham Palace on multiple occasions. The queen’s fondness for the royal bees led to adding additional beehives to the property during her reign. The grounds of Buckingham Palace currently have two different locations for the beehives on the property, and the beekeeper visited them both this last week to deliver the news. Beekeepers have a unique relationship with their hives, and there is no one more qualified to notify the bees than the royal beekeeper.

The Impressive Royal Bees and Busy Beekeeper

The royal beekeeper logged approximately 20,000 bees per hive. Several times during the queen’s reign, the royal beekeeper was responsible for over a million bees on the property. The care the royal bees received under Queen Elizabeth II resulted in flowing honey production throughout her reign. Maybe the genuine connection between the bees and how the queen revered them had something to do with the bountiful output.

Queen Elizabeth II visited the hives, and many say she held them in high regard due to their extraordinary tasks, contributions, and diligence. Over the centuries, the royal bees have provided an abundance of honey to the palace for private use and events. Providing the purest sweetener to the chefs, honey supplied by the royal bees was a common ingredient in many palace favorites. The happy and productive bees provided enough honey to meet the needs of the palace and then some. Excess was often sold to give money to deserving charities. Queen Elizabeth II was an incredibly thoughtful, compassionate, and generous monarch.

Staying with Tradition

The age-old tradition is based on superstitions that if the royal bees are left out of the loop with changes in the monarchy, they may choose not to produce honey, leaving the hives at risk of dying. The ritual includes knocking on each hive to notify the bees and telling them not to leave under the new master. The tradition goes back to Celtic roots when bees were thought to be carriers of messages between the spirit realm and this world. It is said that when bees were not kept in the loop about the Gregorian calendar when it was adopted, they refused to hum and did not produce any honey as a result.

As a result of the queen’s love of bees, she created an official position years ago as a royal beekeeper. The beekeeper’s role was to oversee the bees and ensure they received the required care. It is no surprise that when the queen passed, her bees needed to be notified. Another deep-rooted tradition that some laughed at, notifying the royal bees, is a tradition that continued under Queen Elizabeth II and will hopefully sustain with the new King as he continues his mother’s legacy.