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This section of our site features classic children's fairy tales. Here you will find a text version and an audio version of each story, which you can listen to online or download as an mp3 file to listen to later. You are free to download the audio file but it is copyright by and so cannot be reproduced and sold commercially.

This story is "The Queen Bee" by the Brothers Grimm, translated into english by L L Weedon, in about 1900. To download an mp3 audio file of this classic children's fairy tale use the download button.

The story lasts 5 minutes 11 seconds

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The Queen Bee

by the Brothers Grimm

There  were once two princes, who set out in search of adventures, but who wasted their time and their money in all sorts of foolish ways, so that they were never able to come home again. Then the youngest, who had always been thought the simpleton of the family, set  out to look for his brothers, but when he  found them they only mocked him for his pains.

“For,” said they, “if we with all our brains have not been able to make our way in the world, how can you expect to do so ? “

But nevertheless they all started on their way together, and journeyed on until they reached a large ant hill. The two eldest would have destroyed it, but the simpleton said

“Leave the poor little ants alone. I will not let you disturb them.”

So they went on their way until they came to a pond, upon which a great many ducks were swimming, and the two eldest wanted to catch a couple and roast them, but the simpleton said

“Leave them alone. I will not let you kill them.”

So on they went again, until they came to a tree, in the trunk of which was a wild bees' nest. The two eldest wanted to make a fire under the tree and suffocate the bees, so that they might take the honey, but the simpleton again refused to allow them, and said

“Leave the poor creatures alone. l will not let you burn them.”

At last the three brothers came to a castle, where the stables were full of stone horses, and where not a single human being was to be seen. They walked through one room after another, and at length came to a door in which there were three locks, and in the middle of the door was a little grating through which they could look into the room beyond.

They saw a little man, dressed in grey, seated at a table. Twice they called to him, but he did not answer, so they called a third time, and then he rose, opened the three locks, and came out.

He said not a word, but led them to a table which was richly spread, and when they had eaten and drunk as much as they wished, he took each of them to his own bedroom.

The next morning the little grey man came to the eldest brother, beckoned to him to follow, and led him to a stone table, upon which were engraven three tasks, by means of which the castle could be disenchanted.

This was the first:-In the forest, hidden beneath the thick moss, lay the
princesses pearls, a thousand in number. These must be collected but if one single pearl was missing when the sun set, then he who had sought for them would be turned into stone.

The eldest Prince searched the whole day long, but by sunset he had only found a hundred of the pearls, and so he was turned to stone, just as the stone table had said.

The following day the second Prince tried his luck, but he fared no better than his brother, for by sunset he had found but two hundred pearls, and he too was changed into stone.

At length it came to the simpleton's turn. He searched all day amidst the moss, but the pearls were so difficult to find that at length he sat down upon a stone and burst into tears.

And as he sat there, the king of the ants, whose life he had once saved, came with five thousand ants, and before long the little creatures had found every one of the pearls and piled them up in a heap.

The second task engraven upon the stone table was this:-To fetch out of the lake the key of the princesses sleeping chamber. 

When the simpleton came to the lake, the ducks which he had saved were swimming upon the surface. At once they dived down into the depths below and brought up the key.

But the third task was the post difficult of all, for it was to tell which of the sleeping princesses was the youngest and dearest. They were a11 exactly alike, the only difference being that before they went to sleep each of them had eaten a different sweetmeat – the eldest a piece of sugar, the second a little syrup, and the youngest a spoonful of honey.

Then came the queen of the bees, and tasted the lips of all three, and when she came to the lips which had sipped the honey she remained seated upon them, so that the King's son was able to recognise the right princess.

Thus the enchantment was at an end, the sleepers awoke, and those 
who had been turned into stone received their human forms again. 

And the simpleton married the youngest and dearest princess, and became King
after her father's death, whilst his two brothers married the other two princesses, and lived happily ever after.




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