This is more of a Rant than anything else, but we may all be subject to it sooner or later.
My bees came yesterday; the post office called my house and left 3 different msgs. I commute a long distance to work, so I was planning on getting them when I got home, which is roughly 10 minutes before the post office closes.
I was picking up 3 packages; I don't know if it's standard, but Rossman in Georgia sends them 3 in a row, in a very impressive frame. The post-person brought them out, at arms length. The first thing I noticed when he brought them out was the fact that 2 very large, very red, BOLD print labels that said "THIS END UP" were facing... me. http://www.beesource.com/ubb/frown.gif
He had a bunch of questions, I was in a hurry and simply did a cursory inspection; I order 3 pound packages, so there is a lot going on, I saw activity in each cage, signed off on them, and ran out the door.
My daughter noticed as we were on our way home there seemed to be a lot of dead bees in the center box. When I finally got home and inspected the box more carefully, I noticed about 75% of the bees in that box were in fact dead, in a gooey sticky mass in the corner of the box. I am assuming the syrup leaked out fast enough to congeal the bees and smother/drown them, as there was syrup all inside this box.
Why is it so hard to do your job? You would think "This End UP" would be some kind of postal edict or something. I admit, I'm guilty of ignoring the same message on the side of something like a refrigerator box when transporting it, but these are live creatures.
I care nothing about the cost, or even my lost honey production but I do care the simple loss of "life". They went in a box in Georgia and were murdered before they even had a chance for Mother Nature to test their ability. If I lose them to swarms, disease, or simple absconding FINE, that's nature. This is simple human ignorance.
Now for input, on the issue, chime in if you care to share. I don't know if the queen is affected, I plan to try to load them either this evening or tomorrow. I have 2 hives that seem to be swarming daily. Could I "Steal" a couple of frames of bees from an existing hive and drop them in with this hobbled package?
Had I had a little more experience, I could have split these two hives several times and come up with what I wanted. It's been fun and not just a little adventurous trapping swarms, dropping them into new hives, only to go back and find them gone.
Whew, now I feel better. Been waiting all night to unload thatÂ… thanks for reading.
What did the postal manager say when you conveyed this to him? Seems like something "scary" like a box of bees would enforce the compliance with "this side up," "don't unplug," etc http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif LOL Hope it works out for you!
Haven't called the post office yet and to be honest hadn't really considered that; the bees are dead, I won't be getting any more packages this season, nor will anyone else. At this point, I'm trying to determine the best course of action to salvage the package.
New phrase around my house "Can't go out in the field right now, Dads bees are swarming... again"
If the queens are fine in all three hives, you have a number of options:
#1) You can take some of the bees from the other 2 packages and add them to the third. Spray the bees lightly with some very thin syrup. If you have Honey be Healthy, apple juice, OJ, or any of the oils, add that to the spray mix for some scent. Divide them up so that they are about even in numbers. With all of the confusion of being hived and the spray there should be very little fighting.
#2) Same as above but if you have it add a frame of brood / bees to each of the packages. Spray the frame and package as above.
#3) Take one of your current hives and move it to a new location during the day while they are flying. Place the new light package in it's place and add a frame of bees and brood from a strong hive. This will boost the numbers and help them get started.
Anything that you can do to help them just increases the odds that they will make it.
If they are light in numbers then you'll want to feed them as most of the bees will be required for hive duty and brood raising.
I have 2 hives standing; BOTH with approximately 16-18 deep frames, covered in bees. I have lost some to swarming, but not a heck of a lot. There are frames with brood, but I don't know the ratio.
so to be clear, your opinion is I can add at least 1 full frame of bees from my existing hives to the new loads and that will help? especially the light package? I would almost rather install two very strong packages and try to salvage the 3rd than spread the doom and gollom and hope they all pull through.
As far as the Post Office and shipping bees goes. The Post Office usually does not take responsablity for delivery your bees alive, unless insured. The package supply may send you some more bees if you call them and complain, but your best bet is most likely work with what you have.
Package bees just scare most people. I am usually asked to go to the local break point to pick them up. They are on the loading dock, and usually there are bees flying around. The postal people are freaked out and they think that the bees are getting out. I have to explain that these bees flying around are just investigating the packages and are from a local hive near by.
The vast majority of people these days are so far removed from any type of farming / nature they are scared of it or don't understand it. Hence, the need to local right to farm laws.
Most people hire someone to talk care of their pest problems.
Most people can't tell the difference between a honey bee and a yellow jacket, or a bumble bee and a carpenter bee.
I have had a number of call already this year for "honey bees", none have been honey bees yet.
If you have two very strong hives, then I would take a frame with bees and brood from each of the strong hives. Spray them and the weak package bees lightly and hive them. If you have a frame of empty drawn comb, place it between the two frames of bees and brood. Add the weak package and queen and they should be fine. I would take a little longer to release the queen, leave the cork in for a day or two. Let the bees from the other hives get use to her.
"Had I had a little more experience, I could have split these two hives several times and come up with what I wanted. It's been fun and not just a little adventurous trapping swarms, dropping them into new hives, only to go back and find them gone."
-Try baiting the hive that you place the swarm in. Put some feeder jars on the bars, spray the frames with syrup, add a frame of drawn comb or a frame of honey. Make the new home as appealing as possible.
Scott, you see all kinds at the post office. Last year I received two packages. They were behind schedule so I was on the phone asking about them and was told - "Weather has been bad - they should be mailed in next 2-3 days". Within 10 minutes of this call , the little mail truck pulls up in front of the house and blows the horn. The driver says "I've got some bees here for you". He said his co-workers thought he was crazy for delivering them. All my other packages have been pickups and people standing at arms length. One post worker even wanted to know why they smelled funny - "was it poop?". And one workers said ,"I don't know why they allow shipping live products via the mail". I should have said "So some people will have a job".
My packages this year arrived fine,I had problems with queens this year. Ordered 2 and they both arrived dead (they were in transit for 7 days) - 2 replacements shipped and one arrived dead (6 days in transit) - 1 replacement shipped and arrived in 6 days. Of the surviving queens half the attendent bees were dead. Next time I am going to ask for 'Express' delivery figuring cost would be worth it.
The PO is as big a problem in beekeeping for me as the mites. http://www.beesource.com/ubb/mad.gif
I am still waiting for (8) queens that were shipped two years ago from California. They have never showed up, the replacements showed up fine, but had to install them in the snow.
Can you imagine the expression on the face of whoever got them by mistake? I recall ordering ants from Uncle Milton when I was a kid and how fascinating that was; getting someone else's queens must be a hoot.
What I would do in your case is take a frame of bees from each of your strong hives, take frames that have mostly capped brood so that you will be augementing the population even further when they emerge. One frame from each strong hive should be a small loss if you do have 16-18 frames of brood in each hive as you indicated.
When I received my packages the postal carrier arrived at my house earlier than ever before at about 11am, normally she arrives between 4-6pm. She knocked on my door empty handed with the receipt for me to sign. She had an expression on her face that begged me to ask her, "Would you like me to come and get them out of the truck for you?" She had me climb into the truck to retreive the bees, I am pretty certain she's not supposed to do that, but I can completely understand. You all also have to understand that not everyone has an affinity with bees and are 100% uncomfortable with even the thought of being in their proximty in large numbers. I am not consigning neglect, but I am advicating some understanding by all beekeepers that non-beekeepers don't know the girls like we do.
My typical package of bees in Mitchell NE were always half drowned by the syrup. Same in Brighton Colorado, Laramie Wy etc. Here I've had good luck, but the Post Office actually calls me about 9 or 10 pm from Lincoln (the nearby big city) to tell me I can pick them up there if I want or they will deliver them from Greenwood the next day. I prefer to pick them up, but they have always been in good shape here.
"THIS END UP" seems simple enough, but if you are terrified of bees and throw them (literally) in the corner or in a canvas mail bag and put them in the sun on the loading dock so you won't have to have them in the building with you, it's hard to get that end up. It's also hard to keep the bees alive.
Seems like in recent years the bee suppliers have come up with various solutions that help. Less holes in the can so it doesn't run out so much when the USPS lays it on the side. Or a rag in a hole so it doesn't run so much.
I try to get them locally brought in on a truck or just do splits. Queens seem to ship well, though. They aren't as intimidating to the postal workers (they are buzzing so much) and there is no syrup to spill.
Three years ago I ordered 6 packages from Northern California. Only one package came in and it was taped to one of the large metal shipping carts. It had been brokin open and a few bees had leaked out so they put a plastic letter sorting box over the package and securly duct taped it to the large shipping cage. The problem had happened in Salt Lake City, Utah, I guess a large semi had a load shift and they were mine and a bunch of packages going to a comercial bee keeper in Montana which were mostly destroyed by the load shift. When the postal workers opened the truck they had a mega swarm of bees. They said they called a local bee keeper and he took care of it, they tried to repair the remaining packages the best they could and sent them on. I thought they did a great job under those conditions The people have been very helpfull. One of the ladies here even wanted to come out and watch me hive the packages.
Hope you have better luck next time. Take Care
Re This side UP
Sounds like the postal workers st the 46408 Zip code, it semes to me that it is not a requirement that you know how to READ!
Obviously there's some luck of the draw involved. I'm new to bees this year, but can say I had good luck with my post office on the Central Coast in California. I was told one Monday morning a couple of weeks ago by Spell Bee of Georgia that they'd shipped my package that Saturday and to expect the bees by Wednesday. That same Monday afternoon I got the call from the post office to come and pick them up. There were no more than five or ten dead bees. The syrup can was empty though, so I expect that they wouldn't have done so well if it'd taken any longer.
USPS is interesting. Last year had them call me early am for bees to pick up. Expected that again with more queens, but they put them in my black mailbox. Argh!
This year with new post office, I went there first with a note explaining my situation, gave them my phone numbers. I was off work the day I got bitties and at work when queens came. They called me at work, delivered to my back porch, even set them up on a table off the ground (they had to find and move the table). Next time I saw her, she asked about the bees. I think my advance preparation/warning and having a small town post office helped. A jar of honey will end up in their hands after next harvest.
I have two post offices to choose from 7 miles apart . One is slow and mean the other is fast and polite. I drive 7 miles to the nice one. If they did that to my bees they would reply, "The machine cannot read THIS END UP or Fragile , so don't bother writing it on the box. Thank you for the pleasure of doing business with us"
well yeah, but the friggin machine didn't bring me the boxes, a dude did and I know he should be able to read.
I've had the same luck with carelessness at the Post office. I've recieved a shotgun with the butt stock broken, the glass broken out of an ogee clock, and the worst was when they dropped the package containing a very rare antique walnut-cased tube radio I bought. It was shattered. To get an insurance settlement you have to give them the item. Classic example of not exercising care and pride in your work. They did deliver my queens alive and well.