Royal beekeeper informs bees that Queen Elizabeth has died

John Chapple, 79, recited a "prayer," letting the bees know that their old master had died.

 A beekeeper inspects a honeycomb from his hives. (photo credit: REUTERS/DARREN STAPLES)
A beekeeper inspects a honeycomb from his hives.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DARREN STAPLES)

The death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was "announced" to the bees kept at Buckingham Palace on Friday in a centuries-old custom, The Daily Mail reported.

The royal beekeeper, John Chapple, 79, placed black ribbons on the beehives, in which tens of thousands of bees live. He then recited a "prayer," letting the bees know that their old master had died and that King Charles III would be their new master from now on and telling them to be loyal to him.

From where does this tradition originate?

According to the report, the tradition is rooted in a superstition that not informing the bees that they had a new owner would cause them to stop producing honey, leave the hive or die.

Chapple is retired, but he told MailOnline that he tends to the royal bees as a hobby.

Swarm of bees (credit: INGIMAGE PHOTOS)Swarm of bees (credit: INGIMAGE PHOTOS)

“The person who has died is the master or mistress of the hives, someone important in the family who dies and you don’t get any more important than the Queen, do you?”

John Chapple

“The person who has died is the master or mistress of the hives, someone important in the family who dies and you don’t get any more important than the Queen, do you? 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,’” he said.

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