It was, until recent times, quite normal in the county of Norfolk, United Kingdom, for people with a small amount of land to keep bees. A very interesting folk custom grew out of this. When a member of the family died, the first thing you had to do was tell the bees about it. The procedure was simple. The head of the family would, together with a younger relative, head down to the beehives, whisper the name of the dead person to them, and then tie a piece of ribbon around the hives. The belief was that if you did not do so, the bees would leave.

The origin of the custom is unknown, but it was in vogue until fairly recently. Some of the senior citizens I know remember it being done when their grandparents died. However, as with many other things Anglian, it started dying out in the 1940s. However, it is apparently still in vogue in some villages on the Norfolk-Suffolk border and in the Cotswolds (Thanks to heyoka for this little piece of information!)