Your Dead Bees are in the Mail

Canadian Queen – photo by Stephen Bennett, Calgary

 

Well, this is pretty sad. Canada Post killed some bees. Queen bees are in short supply in Canada. Because of our late springs and short seasons, most queen bees are imported from warmer climates – Hawaii, New Zealand, and Chile are prime sources. These are used to replace colonies that have died over winter or to increase a beekeeper’s number of hives. It would be great if Canadian beekeepers raised queens and sold them to other beekeepers, but Canadian beekeepers sell fewer than one-tenth of the 300,000 or so imported queens used here each year. The rest arrive from far away. Beekeepers order the queens months in advance, send full payment in advance, and wait for the overworked and harried queen-producers to send the queens during the Canadian spring. The queens are fragile – they can’t survive in a parcel for long. So, when a batch of them go missing, it is a rather tough problem.

Canada Post lost one hundred queens! They all died. The most probable cause of the deaths of these insects was heat exhaustion, the result of being confined without proper ventilation and air circulation. It’s also possible they simply ran out of food, though the shippers would have likely provided enough honey or supplements to last a couple of week. The really sad twist to this story is that these queens were not coming from the other side of the world. This bunch of queens was raised in Canada – out in the eastern townships of Quebec. They were only being mailed as far as Montreal. Canada Post found the parcel after five days – the (now dead) queens and their attendant bees were in a warehouse instead of in the beekeeper’s hands. The post office is willing to refund the $200 freight they had charged. But they are not willing to pay the thousands of dollars that the post’s negligence cost the beekeepers who ordered the queens, even though they admitted internal miscommunication had caused the loss. However, Canada Post wrote to the beekeeper and said, “We sincerely apologize for the results of this experience.” They are very, very sorry.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a geophysicist who also does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with a popular blog at www.badbeekeeping.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
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