This glorious snippet from P. L. Travers' What the Bee Knows comes courtesy of my friend James P., who found it on the Bookslut blog:
This apprising of bees, telling them, for all one knows, what they already know, is not the business merely of great ones. The bees are constantly being told. No beekeeper would fail to do it. For if they are not courteously kept informed of everything that happens, they will take umbrage, swarm, and fly away, or die of grief or resentment.
In the British Isles and all over Europe, the folk continually keep the bees abreast of the news, at national as well as local level: decking the hives with crepe or ribbon, whichever fits the case. On one occasion, an ancient great-aunt of mine, hieratically assuming a head-dress of feather and globules of jet, required me to accompany her to the beehives. "But surely you don't need a hat, Aunt Jane! They're only at the end of the garden." "It is the custom," she said, grandly. "Put a scarf over your head." Arrived, she stood in silence for a moment. Then — "I have to tell you," she said formally, "that King George V is dead. You may be sorry, but I am not. He was not an interesting man. Besides," she added -- as though the bees needed telling! — "everyone has to die."