Fixed link to Strachan Apiaries, Inc., http://www.strachanbees.com/
For those newbies out there here's how my experience has been shipping queens and shipping packages. As mentioned above, with either the post office emplyees seem quite horrified by the prospect of live insects. However, the queens have always arrived safely. Mine seem to turn up in a large mesh potatoe sack because there are always some stray lost bees that smell a queen and want to hang out and they think they are escaping.
Package bees vary a lot. I have had good luck here in Greenwood, but the large nearby city post office (Lincoln) calls me at home when they arrive there and I pick them up that eveining, instead of waiting another day for them to come through my post office. Still there seems to be a concept that the bees are escaping because invariably some lost bee will be hanging on the outside. I have gotten them in the past where they had them in a heavy canvas mail bag on the dock in the sun because they were afraid to take them in the post office. I've have many that died from stresses like that or worse, they lay them on their side and all the syrup leaks and drowns the bees. The reason the post office is having to raise the rates is because they insure the bees and then they kill them. Which is obviously a losing proposition.
Has anyone gotten them from UPS? How did the UPS driver react? How good of shape did they arrive?
It would only take a five minute course on how to handle package bees and the post office could cut their losses to 1/10th of what they are now.
I had three hives going into the winter. I've lost two. I am positive the one loss I've had was due to tracheal mites. I had a good one inch layer of bees on my screen bottom board. All that was left was the queen and about 20 workers. They had the classic k wing and did look lethargic. I also have had propolis looking streaks on the outside of the hive. I am a first year beekeeper. I did treat with formic acid around the Nov timeframe although it was a little late.
My other hive I believe simply starved and couldn't get to the honey.
Sooooo, I've learned alot after my first year and will be using grease patties on a steady basis now as well as FGMO.
I guess you have to lick your wounds let them heal and pay the admission fee to becoming a better beekeeper!