Utah beekeepers honor Queen Elizabeth II through historic tradition

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SANDY — While world leaders are in London ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, some locals are symbolically honoring the queen.

In the Beehive State, local beekeepers honor the crown through a special tradition that connects honeybees to the queen.

Queen Elizabeth II had her own royal beekeeper, who had the job of telling her bees that she had passed away and her son, King Charles III, would take over.

Sandy beekeeper Stephen Maycock said telling honeybees about major events, like deaths, births, and marriages is a tradition widely practiced in the beekeeping community.

“That tradition goes clear back into Celtic times where the mythology goes, that when something good or bad happens, you need to inform the bees,” he said.

Maycock and his wife informed the bees in their backyard the queen of England had died.

“Even though I’m not sure exactly what effect that might have on them, I thought, for good luck, we might benefit from being open and honest with them,” he said.

Maycock shares good and bad news with the hive by gently knocking on the side of the box and talking to them in a hushed tone.

“The legend goes that if you didn’t do that, then the bees would leave, they would feel less important and less a part of your normal life, and they would go off and go somewhere else where someone would be more open and sharing with them,” he explained.

The Utah beekeeper said he found comfort connecting with the royal family this way.

“Doesn’t matter where you are in the world, everyone can mourn the loss of a reigning monarch,” Maycock said.

He and his wife said they invested in world history and greatly admired the late monarch.

“The queen had a very strong connection with all sorts of things, and many 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 honeybees and Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

“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 kind of have the same disposition,” he said.

Maycock said if a beekeeper doesn’t tell their bees about major changes like a death, it could also result in a low honey supply.

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