15 Jan 2019

Bee farmer to track couriered queens after insects 'cooked' in transit

7:23 pm on 15 January 2019

A bee company is taking matters into its own hands to make sure queen bees are arriving to customers alive and well after a number died while being couriered.

The queen bee surrounded by bees.

Photo: 123RF

Southern Sun Queen Bees in Horowhenua breeds and sends the flying insects around the country using New Zealand Post's courier service.

Owner Gary Milne said a recent order turned into a nightmare after 27 of the 100 queen bees were dead on arrival to the customer.

He said they cost about $60 dollars each.

Mr Milne said the bees were a couple of days late and had obviously been subjected to heat.

He made a claim to New Zealand Post for compensation and said the company has made an undisclosed ex-gratia payment.

Mr Milne said the postal company was not taking responsibility for the deaths.

"They take the product - and they sell a service of overnight delivery - but they don't promise that it will be overnight delivery... that's the point at which it moves from a real commitment - to a commitment that actually means nothing," he said.

He said they've still got some expensive orders to send and were buying about ten portable tracking devices at about $40 each to be sure the bees arrive on time.

"For our customers primarily - they're waiting for queens and in most cases they've paid for the queens - and we feel that's part of our service is to deliver what we say we're going to deliver - when we say we're going to deliver it," he said.

Gary Milne doesn't think New Zealand Post's service would improve quickly.

"We will have more of these (deaths) and I don't think Courier Post is going to change its means of operating in the short-term - so yeah we will have parcels go missing, or be delayed I'm sure," he said.

In a statement, the postal operator said delays were unavoidable at times.

"NZ Post cannot guarantee delivery timeframes or the temperature of perishable items sent within our network... we're speaking to the operational teams involved with this specific case to identify ways to avoid this issue in the future," the statement said.