This title should really be “Bee Where?” We were anticipating a delivery of packaged bees on Friday. We had placed the order back in January – three packages of bees to be delivered the first week of May. My husband received a call from the apiary during the first week of May telling him that the bees would be delayed a week because of weather. The bees were to be shipped on May 11.
I received an email from the USPS on May 11 stating that the bees had been shipped from Tennessee. They were sent second day priority mail. They had left that post office at 4:30 pm on May 11, and our expected delivery date was May 13th.
Friday, May 13th came and even though he hadn’t received a phone call, my husband stopped by the post office in the morning since he was already in town. The bees had not arrived yet but they were expecting another truck around 11:00 A.M. When we hadn’t heard from them by about noon, he called the post office and was told that the bees were not on that truck. The online tracking had not been updated since the bees left the Tennessee post office at 4:30 P.M. on Wednesday. Frustrated, we resigned ourselves to the fact that even though the weather was not forecast to be favorable for it, we would be hiving bees on Saturday.
Saturday morning when we got up, I checked the USPS website and the tracking had still not been updated. My husband kept his phone nearby awaiting the frantic phone call from the post office eager to get those things out of there. By 9:30 when the call did not come he called them again. Still no bees, but they again were expecting a truck in an hour or so. Again around noon he made the call to the post office. No bees, was their answer, and was he sure they were shipped. According to their website, which still had not been updated, they were.
At this point we were not only frustrated, but also left with a lot of questions. Where are the bees? Will they ever arrive? Will they be alive and healthy when/if they do arrive? What happens if they are not?
Sunday, May 15, 2016 I checked the USPS tracking site and received this message “The package is delayed and will not be delivered by the expected delivery date. An updated delivery date will be provided when available. Your item departed our USPS facility in GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49588 on May 15, 2016 at 3:17 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination” Checking the website several times later on Sunday gave me the same results.
This morning, Monday, May 16 the USPS tracking finally reported that the bees were at our local post office. My husband also received a phone call telling him that the bees were there. He went to the post office and upon his return one look at his face told me that thing were not good. I felt like crying when I saw that all of the bees were dead.
The feeder cans still had plenty of sugar water in them so we know the bees did not starve to death. Without knowing where the bees were for the past five days leaves us only guessing that, since we have had overnight temperatures in the 30’s, the bees perhaps froze to death.
It’s hard to define the emotions we felt today- sadness about the death of so many bees, disappointment that we will not be starting the new hives as planned and anger that perhaps feels like hopelessness because we don’t know who to be angry with. We can’t blame the entire USPS and I sure we will never have an explanation as to why this happened, but somewhere along the way their system failed. We trusted them to deliver our bees in just two days. It ended up taking more than twice that long and it cost the bees their lives.
I am certainly not writing this to bash the USPS, if fact I have always been satisfied with their service, and the two previous times the we received bees through the mail we did receive them alive, healthy, and in just two days.
It’s been a pretty quiet and somber day around here today, and we are now waiting for a return call from our supplier to see if they will ship more bees or our money will be refunded.
I am glad I did not publish at this point, because it turns out there is more to the story. Even though it was difficult to get motivated to do anything else, because of this whole ordeal, my husband decided to go to the farm and
get some tractor work done play on the tractor for a while. Shortly before I expected him home my phone rang. When I answered, my husband informed me that we had just received a gift from God. One of our hives had swarmed, and the swarm had landed in a spot where he could capture it.
I grabbed some honey, that we had saved for feeding the new bees, and my camera, and headed to the farm. He filled the feeder so he could place it on top of the hive as soon as he got the bees inside, and I snapped a couple of photos.
My husband captured the swarm by brushing them, with his gloved hands, off the branch and into a five gallon bucket. He then dumped the bucket into a hive that we had ready for the new bees. He made a second trip up the ladder to get more bees that had gathered on the branch.
So our day ended on a positive note, with a message from God saying, “Hey, don’t worry. I got this.” I believe the moral of this story is, that people will fail you, but God will not.