When Montreal beekeeper Alexandre Mclean ordered a shipment of bees from the Eastern Townships, he did not expect to find them five days later, in a warehouse and lifeless.
"To lose a package like this, for five days, without any notice? It's terrible," said Mclean, the co-founder of Alvéole, a beekeeping group that promotes local honey-making and bee awareness.
Mclean placed an order of 100 queen bees with Canada Post — as he had done several times before over the last three years.
But after a day, the company lost track of a package of bees. The bees were found five days later in a Canada Post warehouse in Saint-Laurent.
When Mclean confronted Canada Post, he said they told him that it was "human error."
In an email, Canada Post spokeswoman Anick Losier told CBC that "unfortunately, it appears that there may have been a miscommunication within our network. We sincerely apologize for the results of this experience and can confirm that we have made changes to our processes to ensure this does not happen again."
Mclean frequently orders his bees from Élevages Moreau, a bee breeding company in the Eastern Townships.
Mclean said Élevages Moreau told him that another package of 175 queen bees, shipped to Nova Scotia, had also mysteriously vanished this week.
"There's something completely disorganized and completely ridiculous going on over there [at Canada Post]," said Mclean.
Canada Post to reimburse shipping cost
Mclean has been trying to call Canada Post since he picked up his lifeless bee shipment on Sunday night.
After CBC investigated, Canada Post responded to him Thursday, saying that it would pay for the shipping costs of the bees — approximately $200.
Mclean said that's not nearly enough.
Mclean said hives only have one queen bee at a time, and a hive can be left without a queen bee for only a very short period of time. Mclean said, as a result, the hives he had prepared for his new shipment of queen bees were ruined.
He estimates his total costs lost to be between $10,000 and $12,000, and his company Alvéole is now three weeks behind schedule.
"Bees are doing very poorly right now in the world. There's a major bee population decline," he said. "[Canada Post] should be able to guarantee people that [they'll] be able to do this job properly."