On the Shipping of Honeybees…

On the Shipping of Honeybees…

Posted by Christy Hemenway on Apr 17th 2019

For most of a decade, Gold Star Honeybees has been shipping what’s known in the beekeeping industry as “3# package bees”.That odd phrase translates into a wooden box, about the size of a shoebox, with screened sides, and containing 3 pounds of honeybees. (For those of you with inquiring minds, that’s about 10,000 honeybees.)

I have loads of memories to go with the years – some of them precious and some of them not so great, but when I think back it’s mostly just been really priceless to be a part of so many beekeepers’ excitement over the arrival of their bees.Especially brand new beekeepers, most of whom are literally “abuzz” with anticipation. It’s a bit like watching new parents prepare for the arrival of a child!

When shipping bees goes well – it goes really, really well.I have had beekeepers call me to say that their bees had arrived and there were only 10 bees dead on the bottom of the package.I have walked a number of people through the process of getting their bees out of the package and into the hive.I have priceless photos of new beekeepers in full regalia, hiving their first bees – and I know their hearts are going bangity-bang in their chests as they help their bees make the transition into their new home, and then as we like to say, they “press play.”

When shipping bees goes badly – well, it goes really, really badly.Having a package arrive at your local post office, and getting that call – “Come down here and get your bees!” – only to be handed a screened box with all of the bees dead on the bottom is… well… heartbreaking.All that preparation and all that anticipation goes right out the window.“Crestfallen” was how one beekeeper described it.

Order your bees here.

We get it.It’s hard to describe just how bad that feels.So we want you to know a few things about why we ship bees through the US mail, if there is a risk that the bees could be damaged or even killed by the shipping.And the number one reason we do it, and we continue to do it, is that…95% of the time, it works!The bees arrive in great shape, and they go home with their beekeepers and they make it into their hives, and go on to establish thriving colonies.

Now if you are one of the 95% whose bees arrive successfully – life is all sunshine and roses. But if you are one of the 5% whose bees don’t make it - that 95% number provides zero comfort.We get that too.So we do what we can to mitigate the risk by insuring your bees for their purchase price.

We’ve also been doing this for awhile so we know some of the tips and tricks, and we've posted a link to them below for those of you who are just now discovering that bees can be shipped through the mail… and we really want you to know this:If it wasn’t 95% successful, we wouldn’t do it. But 95% of the time, the US Postal System comes through, and for every beekeeper that has successfully launched a new hive with a package of bees from Gold Star Honeybees, that they picked up hale and hearty at their local post office… please know that we are truly grateful to have been a part of your beekeeping journey.

So here are some tips and tricks about the crazy details of shipping bees, with our thanks:

You can order bees here.

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