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Posted in Newsletter on September 26, 2022   |  by Gary Burger

Queen Bee

With the passing of the British Crown, there are countless traditions we’re learning about here in the States. My absolute favorite tradition should come as no surprise to those of you who’ve been reading these newsletters: They have to tell the bees!

In a recent article from The Daily Mail, Royal Beekeeper John Chapple talked about the tradition of informing the hives of the death of their master. While this is a primarily British tradition, it’s seen all over Europe, and yes, even here in the States.

John draped the hives with a black ribbon and bow, telling the bees “The mistress is dead, but don’t you go. Your master will be a good master to you.”

Informing the bees is a tradition that dates back to the middle ages, under the superstition that if the bees are not informed there will be consequences, including leaving the hive, stopping production of honey, or even dying.

So, to the millions of bees at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, we send them our condolences, and hope that King Charles III continues the tradition of royal beekeeping!

The hives at Buckingham Palace, draped with a black ribbon. Photo credit: Daily Mail

With the changing seasons, I’ve been spending some time with my bees - getting them ready for fall and winter.

I took the extra boxes we put on for honey off the hives. They are left with their main two boxes. I want the bees to collect whatever fall nectar flow or sugar water I provide them into the main hive boxes so they can have food for the winter.

I provide sugar water to them because in the fall it can get dry and there’s less food - I make sure they all have sugar water fortified with vitamins. This is a liquid that they take out of a big bucket that’s turned upside down with little holes in it.

I make sure the hive beetle traps that I put in the hives are empty and ready for more hive beetles. These are little tiny black beetles that go in the hive.

The bees push them into a trap that I fill with something called diamatacious earth oil, which kills the beetles.

I also make sure that they have varroa mite treatment. Varroa mites harm bees and contribute to colony collapse. They are a parasite that latch onto bees and dose them with chemicals that are found in our environment like pesticides and lawn herbicides.