Thank you to Honeyliscious for sharing this on Facebook:
There’s an old superstition involving bees and their keepers, a practice referred to as “telling the bees.” This folklore was practiced in America during the 19th century, but most likely had European roots. Its name is fairly self-explanatory: when a member of a beekeeping family dies, someone must inform the hive of the news. (Bees were also “told” of other significant events in the household-marriages, moving, etc.) The consequences of not observing the superstition were the deaths of all of the bees or the abandonment of the hive. Bees were a valuable commodity to those who tended them, so naturally people wanted to protect their hives.