Australia Post COVID delays worry queen bee breeders as busy Christmas season looms

Postage delays are causing a huge headache for queen bee keepers and keepers, who say the crucial stock is dying or disappearing.

It has been reported that some packages of the valuable cargo take up to 10 days to reach their destination.

Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association (AQBBA) President Richard Sims said this was despite the express shipment of cattle.

“They come in dead, they come in stressed or just don’t come at all,” he said.

“This is a ripple effect until the beekeeper, who can have his hives already installed while waiting for these queens, or he waits to renew his queens which must be maintained at an optimal level for the production of honey, or for the pollination industry, which is growing now. ”

Mr Sims said ranchers didn’t know what happened after the packages left their hands.

“We don’t know if they’re left in postal sorting areas or if they’re stuck in vans – it depends on whether the tracking numbers are working,” he said.

“I recently heard about a batch that lasted for seven days, but they got really bad.

A package of queens ready for delivery to Tasmania.(Provided: Murwillumbah Queen Bee)

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Mr Sims said a package of virgin queens produced from queens and drone sperm recently imported from the Netherlands and sent from Victoria to Brisbane took 10 days to be delivered.

“It was a very important package, as you can imagine,” he said.

“They arrived alive but they were in very poor condition, so it is not yet clear whether they will be good for insemination.”

The AQBBA now recommends that breeders insure their queens, but Mr Sims said some are now refusing to send them.

“Some people just have enough, it’s just too risky,” he said.

“We were supposed to send a batch to Victoria on Monday.

Mr. Sims, who raises queens in Murwillumbah, isn’t sure what the solution might be.

“Couriers can take up to five days to get them there, which may be acceptable,” he said.

“We are also considering bringing in trucking companies.

An empty queen cage with hundreds of queens.
An empty delivery cage sits on a frame with hundreds of bees.(Provided: Murwillumbah Queen Bee)

Testing data loggers

The AQBBA is about to start a trial using data loggers in delivery packages to monitor bee conditions.

“Some studies have shown that temperatures above 40 degrees can affect the viability of the sperm stored in the queen bee, which can affect the longevity of the queen or her ability to continue to lay eggs,” he said.

“So the association is buying data loggers and we’re going to send them along with packages of queen bees so that we can test the temperatures they are exposed to while traveling as well as the humidity.

“We don’t know what this will show, but it will hopefully eliminate some of the issues that have come up with queen bees not lasting as long as they can in hives.”

An older man, in glasses and in a shiny shirt, looks at a bee enclosure resembling a letterbox.
Australian Native Bee Association president Tim Heard said many custodians have lost faith in the postal system.(Provided: Tim Heard)

Native hive delays

The Australian Native Bee Association has experienced similar delays.

President Tim Heard said members were still able to get beehives to regional sites and crops in need of pollination, but were experiencing delays of more than a week to have the hives delivered to Sydney, where the industry is experiencing growth in the companion animal market.

“While we could send beehives on Monday and they would arrive, usually on Wednesday, mid-week, we are now seeing situations where they don’t even get there by the end of the week,” he said. he declared.

“Most beekeepers pack their hives so the bees can breathe, but there is always a limit to how long these bees can survive when confined.”

Bees sent to hives that experience delays of more than a week may run out of food and risk suffocation.

Mr Heard said the risk was becoming too great for most beekeepers.

“It comes at a cost to beekeepers and it causes quite a bit of inconvenience for those in Sydney who want to buy these hives,” he said.

“Since it is likely that there will be an opening of [Sydney], hope this will result in faster postage and freight services.

“Prioritizing perishable food would be a big improvement.

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Australia Post sorry

In a statement to the ABC, an Australia Post spokesperson said the service was experiencing Christmas-like volumes in addition to border closures, reduced flights and blockages.

“Our teams are working hard to process and deliver packages as quickly and securely as possible,” the spokesperson said.

“All reasonable efforts are made to prioritize packages containing live insects that are packaged and shipped in accordance with our Packaging and Dangerous and Prohibited Goods Guide.


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