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Royal beekeeper has informed the Queen's bees that HM has died and King Charles is their new boss

Royal beekeeper John Chapple, 79 (right), in an arcane tradition believed to date back centuries, has informed hives kept on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen's death.

The royal beekeeper, in an arcane tradition believed to date back centuries, has informed the hives kept on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen’s death.

And the bees have also been told, quietly, that their new master is now King Charles III.

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 carry out the superstitious ritual.

He placed black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, home to tens of thousands of bees, before informing them that their mistress had died and that a new master would be in charge from now on.

He then urged the bees to be good to their new master, who was once famous for talking to plants.

The strange ritual is based on an old superstition that not advising them of a change of owner would cause the bees to not produce honey, leave the hive or even die.

Royal beekeeper John Chapple, 79 (right), in an arcane tradition believed to date back centuries, has informed hives kept on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen's death.

Royal beekeeper John Chapple, 79 (right), in an arcane tradition believed to date back centuries, has informed hives kept on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen’s death.

The bees have also been quietly told that their new master is now King Charles III.

Speaking from Buckingham Palace gardens, Mr Chapple told MailOnline: “I’m in the hives now and it’s traditional that when someone dies you go to the hives and say a little prayer and put a black ribbon on the hive.”

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‘I cover the hives with a black ribbon with a bow.

‘The person who has died is the master of the hives, someone important in the family who dies and you are not more important than the Queen, right?

‘You call each hive and say: ‘The lady is dead, but don’t go.’ Your master will be a good master for you.

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

In the height of summer, Mr. Chapple cares for more than a million bees, although by late summer their numbers have dwindled.

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

‘At this time of year each hive contains 20,000 each, maybe a little more, but I’m not very good at counting them. They are more than a million in summer.

Chapple revealed that he has been the palace’s official beekeeper for 15 years despite not realizing that he had interviewed 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 bee problem, but it turned out they wanted to have bees, so from now on I take care of the bees here.”

He added: ‘I am retired. I am 79 years old. It’s my hobby, beekeeping and now I take care of some hives for important people.

Number one is the Queen, or rather was, the Queen.

‘I was the queen’s beekeeper and I hope now I get the king’s beekeeper job.

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

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

So I bought him a book called Beekeeping in the Back Garden. She read the book and said, “Well, now it’s your turn.” So I got the job of keeping bees in my house and it has grown from that.

‘It has been a wonderful hobby and interest and has taken me all over the world. I have met wonderful people and seen beautiful scenery that only beekeepers can see.

“I am standing now on the island at Buckingham Palace and there is not a living soul that I can see.

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

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

‘I hope they still want to keep bees on their premises. you never know They might say, take them away, but I don’t think that will happen, although you never really know.

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It depends on the new tenant of Buckingham Palace.

He placed black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, home to tens of thousands of bees, before informing them that their mistress had died and that a new master would be in charge from now on.  He then urged the bees to be good to his new master.

He placed black ribbons tied in bows on the hives, home to tens of thousands of bees, before informing them that their mistress had died and that a new master would be in charge from now on. He then urged the bees to be good to his new master.

John deals predominantly with dark European bees, specifically London mongrels.

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 bees is a traditional custom in many European countries where bees are told about important events in the lives of their keepers, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns home.

If the custom was skipped or forgotten and the bees did not ‘mourn’, it was believed that a fine would be paid, such as the bees 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 to inform the bees of the sad news of the queen’s death, said: “Tradition is that you knock gently on the hive and say your master or master is dead, but your new master will.” Be good to yourself, so treat him well.

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