Why Bees Are Dying From Postal Delays
Delivery delays are starting to sting an unlikely group; Australian bees.
Queen bees are often sent in the mail by breeders to help Australia’s bee populations thrive.
But Australia’s postage delays have made bees the new unsuspecting victims to be affected by the global shipping crisis, and the delays could impact the future of our local bee population.
So Why Exactly Are We Posting Bees?
Well, queen bees are the lifeblood of a hive and eventually they stop producing enough eggs for the hive’s survival.
It can then take up to 30 days to make a new queen, which is a period that puts the hive at risk.
But this is where queen bee breeders come in.
Breeders use special postage cages to mail out queens, that are then introduced to hives to shorten that risky 30-day period.
But recent shipping delays are badly affecting how this whole process works.
If a hive doesn’t succeed in raising its own queen, and then a mail-order queen doesn’t turn up, the hive can become stressed and even more vulnerable.
Why Are There So Many Delays?
Industrial action, huge volumes of parcels, and COVID-19 have all contributed to longer delivery times on mail recently.
Employee strikes from FedEx, StarTrack, and Toll Group mean that we’re seeing delays on most deliveries across the country.
Extended lockdowns have resulted in record numbers of people shopping online, and temporary facility closures from hundreds of staff in self-isolation has added even more pressure on the postal network.
But What Does This Mean For The Bees?
Delays in queen bee deliveries have resulted in bees arriving at their new hive weak, sick, or even dead.
Some queen bees are imported from the Netherlands, which has put them at even more risk of being affected by the postal delays in Australia.
And delays aren’t the only issue; bee populations all around the world are facing threats from pests, disease, and climate change.
Australia is the only continent left without varroa mites affecting our bees, so successfully importing Dutch honeybees strengthens the genetic pool to prevent potential outbreaks.
Australian Bees have huge commercial value and play a crucial role in pollinating plants and crops.
Avocados, blueberries and cauliflowers all completely depend on honeybee pollination.
But Honeybees are only part of the bee situation in Australia.
We have over 1500 native bee species, which are also being affected by the delays in the queen bee deliveries.
Native bees are still feeling the effects from the ‘black summer’ bushfires almost two years ago, so keeping hives strong with healthy queen bees is essential right now.
One potential solution that can help the queens survive their postal journey is to use data loggers.
They record information on things like temperature and humidity, which can help to monitor the bees while they’re in transit.
But the bottom line is that bees just don’t seem able to survive long postal delays, and that could be really devastating for their future, and ours.