A load of queen bees lost in the Canada Post lockout has been found alive at a Montreal warehouse.

The 100 bees were bought by Alma, Que. honey producer Raphael Vacher from a breeder in the Eastern Townships before the Canada Post lockout.


Raphael Vacher's bees were recovered at a sorting warehouse after being stranded in the lockout. (Courtesy: lesmielsraphael.com)

Their short journey to Alma via Montreal was delayed when mail delivery stopped after Canada Post employees were locked out.

Vacher panicked because the bees can only survive about a week without water, and their death would collapse orphan worker bee colonies waiting for their queen, at an estimated loss of $20,000.

Canada Post couldn't locate the bees at first — but the crown corporation told CBC News late Friday afternoon that the shipment was recovered in a truck parked at a Montreal mail distribution centre.

Twenty-thousand queen bees are shipped every year in Canada, with June being the busiest month.

The bees are used to populate honey-producing colonies.

Private couriers don't ship bees, so Canada Post is the only delivery option for beekeepers.

Anicet Desrochers in Mont-Laurier, Que. breeds and ships bees, and said the lockout is hurting his business. This week, he lost 250 queens.

"It's so hard to do beekeeping right now," he said, adding that disease and climate change are taking a toll on the industry.

"Having trouble with shipping queens, it's just like pushing a bit too much," he said.