ANCHORAGE (KTUU) UPDATE: Alaska Airlines says it is not banning the shipment of bees.
Bobbie Egan, media relations director for the company issued the following statement on Monday:
"Alaska Airlines and Alaska Air Cargo have NOT banned shipments of bees. We’ve supported bee movements to Alaska for years, shipping on average 24,000 pounds of bees a year. Just yesterday we moved three shipments of bees and three more went out today, with several more shipments planned before the season ends.
It is true that we banned one bee shipper from Portland when he repeatedly did not pack his insects correctly in two separate shipments. The packaging of his shipments last Thursday arrived in ANC with loose netting, causing a number of bees to escape. Our employees did a great job of containing the bees without injury, but it was an unfortunate situation that we go to great lengths to avoid. We did offer to work with the shipper and train him how to safely package and ship his bees, however, he refused our offer.
Alaska Airlines is a lifeline to many communities in Alaska and we understand that we play a special role getting bees to the state and look forward to continuing this effort for the foreseeable future."
Hundreds of beekeeprs in Alaska may not be receiving their orders of bees.
According to a bee supplier out of Washington, two boxes of bees broke while in transit on Alaska Airlines and the company was told the airline would not be shipping any more bees this year.
A May 4th post to Northwest Bee Supply's website said the problem started when one of the shipments arrived in Anchorage with several bees outside of a damaged package.
Northwest Bee Supply said Alaska Airlines has now discontinued the service to Alaska that contains bees. On Sunday, a spokesperson from Alaska Airlines told Channel 2 our request for information about the issue would be processed this week.
Nathan Broumley, a beekeeper who orders bees through the supplier said over 90 percent of his orders made it in earlier this year, but now he's dealing with a financial loss.
"It's a heartbreaking loss, it's a big financial loss for myself and for the supplier and it's a major bummer for all the bee keepers, but I do believe we're gonna be able to recover from this and figure it out," Broumley said. "I'm hoping we can still get them up here safely and I'm 99 percent sure we can, it just might be different next year."