The Queen’s bees
Confidential communications, two minutes of silence throughout the Kingdom, dress rehearsals for the funeral procession, the dress code of the BBC journalists: the protocol “London Bridge” and its variant operation “Unicorn”, taken as soon as the Queen’s death occurs, they leave nothing to chance. Every detail is encoded. But it doesn’t stop there. There is another important passage that escapes official documents and that has its roots in the mists of time. This is the tradition to communicate to bees the news of the death of the sovereign.
An ancient tradition
The origins of this ritual are not known. Their traces are lost in the popular folklore of the English countryside. There are those who even trace it back to the Celts. Like family members, bees need to be alerted to changes and upheavals, whether they are good or bad. In particular, news related to births and deathsaccording to tradition, they must be reported in detail to these insects known for their industriousness.
Between folklore and protocol
For the bereavement a separate chapter opens. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the belief spread that if one had forgotten to communicate the death of a relative to the bees, misfortunes and misfortunes would have fallen on the family. Farmers feared that any lack of respect could affect future honey production. Although these superstitions are no longer believed, the custom has survived. However, there are not many professionals who still practice it in the Third Millennium. Among these courageous defenders of tradition there is John Chapple, the official beekeeper of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House. For fifteen years he has been taking care of the London hives of the Windsor family. The British press has made it known that the September 9 last he hurried the practice, as has been the custom for centuries.
The hives of Buckingham Palace
But how was the news given to the bees of the subspecies “mellifera mellifera”? Chapple has placed gods black ribbons on the hives, seven in total. According to the popular British newspaper The Daily Mail’s who interviewed the 79-year-old, Chapple whispered the news of the Queen’s death in a soft voice. He also announced the proclamation of the new king, Charles III. “The Queen is dead, but don’t run away. Your new master will be good to you,” she said.