SANDY, Utah- As world leaders gather at Westminster Abbey ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London, some locals pay symbolic tributes to the Queen.
In the Beehive State, local beekeepers honor the crown through a special tradition linking honey bees to the queen.
Queen Elizabeth II had her own royal beekeeper who was tasked with telling her bees that she had died and her son, King Charles III, would take over.
Sandy beekeeper Stephen Maycock said informing honey bees of important events such as deaths, births and marriages is a widespread tradition in the beekeeping community.
“This tradition dates back to Celtic times, where mythology says you have to let the bees know when something good or bad is happening,” he said.
Maycock and his wife informed the bees in their backyard that the Queen of England had died.
“While I don’t know exactly what impact that might have on them, I thought, luckily, if we’re open and honest with them, we could benefit,” he said.
Did you know that when the queen dies, someone has to tell her honey bees? 🇬🇧
I spoke to a Utah beekeeper here in Beehive State who did the same for his hive. I’ll tell you more about the tradition of “bee-telling” at 4 @KSL5TV #QueenElizabethIl pic.twitter.com/st0CjxlBXr
— Shelby Lofton (@newswithShelby) September 18, 2022
Maycock tells the hive good and bad news by gently tapping on the side of the box and speaking to them in a hushed tone.
“Legend has it that if you didn’t do that, the bees would leave, they would feel less important and less a part of your normal life, and they would walk away and go somewhere else where someone would be more open and sharing with them” , he explained.
The Utah beekeeper said he found solace in connecting with the royal family in this way.
“No matter where you are in the world, anyone can mourn the loss of a reigning monarch,” Maycock said.
He and his wife said they were invested in world history and greatly admired the late monarch.
“The Queen had a very strong connection to all sorts of things, and a lot of people don’t even know there is such a thing as a royal beekeeper,” Maycock said.
He said he sees many parallels between the nature of honey bees and the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
“A worker bee is the exact genetic replica of the queen. So if you have a queen in your hive that has a good disposition, each of your worker bees will also have a good disposition, like the Queen of England, she was a wonderful leader and she had a great disposition and I think that helped her people have the same disposition,” he said.
Maycock said failure by a beekeeper to notify their bees of major changes, such as a death, could also result in low honey supplies.