Friendly Fire... Friendly Fraud???

Friendly Fire... Friendly Fraud???

Posted by Christy Hemenway on Feb 9th 2022

They say that you can lead a horse to water, but they also say that you cannot make said horse actually take a drink.

For the last several years, Gold Star Honeybees has made it a point to explain in detail how the shipping of honeybees is handled by the USPS, and how we manage the logistics of preparing them for the post office, and what to do in case the post office “breaks” your bees. The document was called “Bee Order Policies” and you had to check a box certifying that you had read and understood those policies.

The bee cage, or package, is “approved” by the USPS. It’s the same package that has been in use for a very long time, to hold 3# of live honeybees (approximately 10-12,000 bees) while they are being transported. The shipping method used is Priority Mail – the only method available for the shipping of bees. All the “special handling fees” (i.e. Priority Mail) are paid, all the required stickers are stuck on… and insurance against damage is purchased by Gold Star Honeybees. We meet all the requirements of shipping honeybees via USPS.

But Gold Star Honeybees’ ability to control what happens to the package bees that we ship ceases when they are put into the hands of the USPS. That’s why we insure them. If they arrive dead, or with more than a 1” layer of bees dead on the bottom (the maximum amount of loss that still allows for enough bees to start a viable hive) then… an insurance claim is the solution. The USPS success rate is over 90%, so this sort of loss happens less than 10% of the time.

But experience has shown that despite checking the box that tells me, “Yes, I get it about the shipping of bees,” some folks, it turns out, must not have actually read the Bee Order Policies, and they were “confused” about what to do in the case of bees arriving dead/damaged.

Then someone decided they should file a dispute with their credit card company rather than filing a claim. (This is about as fraudulent as you can ask for, btw.) In self-defense against such behavior, we now do a fairly obnoxious amount of disclaiming, and we INSIST that you must read and understand the Bee Order Policies. We added places that require customers to initial and to sign saying that they understand how the process works, before an order will even process. I pretty much hate it. It’s so in-your-face. It’s so NOT cheery or upbeat. It’s not the way we like to do business, not at all. But it does invite people to think carefully about these stated policies and to purchase from another bee supplier if they do not agree with them.

All this leads me to wonder whether you can lead a beekeeper to information, but… cannot necessarily make them think?

I suspect that if you’ve read this far, you will find it in your heart, and it will make sense to you, to forgive the levels to which we have had to go to get our point across.  Here’s wishing all the best to you and your bees, and thank you for making us a part of your beekeeping journey!

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