Many people don't really know the story behind how we get honey bees to Canada for spring beekeeping. The process of transporting honey bees is actually a big undertaking and we are going to share a bit of this hidden story with you.
There are many factors that can make or break the arrival of honey bees to Canada. Factors like how the beekeeping season is progressing overseas, the weather, flight availability and government requirements can affect the timing of the bees' arrival. Honey bees are considered livestock and need to meet a lot of requirement before they depart and arrive in Canada.
Most bee packages come from New Zealand, Australia and Chile to Canada. This is mostly due to the fact that these regions are still Varroa Mite free. Since they are coming from so far away, the only quick way of transportation is by air. However, there are very few airlines that will allow for transportation of honey bees. As popularity and demand for bees grows, some airlines are opting out of transportation of bees. While other airlines are implementing new procedures for companies to meet that can make it more difficult to get bees to Canada.
Priority For Air Travel
Honey bees can be delayed as there is simply not enough space for them on a flight and they are not considered a priority on flights. Since they are not essential cargo, the original flight can be delayed for multiple days until there’s availability. Because bees are livestock and require attention and care, this can be stressful both for bees and the individuals who are traveling with them. For example, during COVID in 2020, our package bees were delayed on flights because masks needed to be transported.
Once on the plane the bees need to be monitored. They need the correct temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. If any of these are out of balance, it is very likely that the shipment can end up being 50% to 100% dead. In this situation most companies will not give out the packages, because even the packages that survived will be very weak.
Inspection is a very important process that happens both before the bees get on the plane and after they disembark.The first inspection before entering the plane is to make sure all the bees are properly packaged and follow all the guidelines of transporting live product into Canada. Once on the ground in Canada the packages then need to have one last inspection before being released to the beekeeping company. This is to make sure that all the rules and regulations were followed and the product is safe to be released to be sold in Canada.
Arrival in Canada
Once the plane has landed, the packages need to be unloaded as quickly as possible. They are a live insect that needs to be cared for and taken care of as quickly as possible. Sometimes there are technical difficulties at the airport because a lift isn’t working or there’s not enough staff to help unload.
Fortunately the airlines usually release our bees in a timely manner, but waiting is always stressful.
Beekeeping companies like Hiveworld do their best and try to help suppliers with some of these processes. We go to great lengths to get these creatures here alive, healthy and on time.
We hope that this helps you understand why companies don’t give out exact dates as to when the packages will arrive, and why there’s no guarantee that you will receive bees.
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