“Your mistress has died, but please do not leave. Your new master will be an excellent one.” John sighed heavily.

Head bowed, his calloused palms pressed against his young daughter’s hands in prayer. The words fell ponderously from his dry lips like stones into a pond. John ruminated over how every living species had a heart and should be honoured, respected and alerted, as he tied the last black ribbon. The occupants were now in mourning. As he finished his duty, he closed the gate to the meadow and walked home with his little one.

Anne, a bright precocious child with long wavy hair like delicate rippled waterfalls was pensive. Usually. she helter-skeltered ahead radiating laughter. Not today. That endearing dimple in her chin swelled as she asked, “Father, why did you tell them of their mistress’s death?”

The scent of heady roses and sweet honeysuckle tingled their noses. Blackberries were black jewels in the hedgerows, but failed to entice Anne.

Pleased that his precious one had asked this question; he was relieved to express his feelings and cleanse some sorrow away. “Anne, we are dependent on bees for honey. For our livelihood. They help pollinate, meaning, they take the pollen of one flower and place it in another to later produce juicy tomatoes, crisp Russet apples, your favourite Bartlett pears, and so much more.” John tenderly took his daughter’s right pinkie and placed it into the throat of a showy apple blossom which swayed invitingly. Anne stared at the yellow pollen, before her father delicately placed her pinkie into another delicate pink tinged blossom. 

“A terrible tragedy if our bee family decided to leave because we failed to inform them of family matters like death, marriage and birth. You saw me knock on each hive, inform the bees of the death of their beloved mistress. They are part of our family and should be informed. Remember, every living creature has feelings.”

The beekeeper bear-hugged his motherless child to his chest as tears escaped from weary eyes.


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Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
11 days ago

I’d read about this tradition recently, but you really brought it to life. I especially enjoyed your detailed descriptions of the various scenes and characters. A beautiful story reminding us of all of life’s connections..

Last edited 11 days ago by Preston Randall
Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
10 days ago

Margarida, I really love this story. Bees are very dear to my heart – essential to the health of the planet and to the beauty of our lives. When I read your story, I thought it was the queen bee who had died, and I wondered why there would be a “master”, since the head of the hive is always female. Now after reading your comments, I see that there is a bigger, deeper story here. I had heard of informing the bees of a death in the human family, as well, and your story portrays this custom vividly with scenery and relevance. Thank you for this story. It is one I will return to many times.

One question – why a beekeeper “bear”? I thought he was human. Did I miss something?

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
8 days ago

I loved your description of the end of summer, the end of an era, the end of lives, ended through the smell of roses and the ripe blackberries…
Telling the bees of an important event is an old tradition, present in many civilisations, something I used for one of my previous stories too.
I loved the way you linked the death of the two queens. Well done!

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