Share This Page

Some packages at the Sewickley post office are alive

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 8:02 a.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Kelly Jones feeds a bowl of oatmeal to her chickens at her Aleppo home Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Jones ordered her birds through the mail.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Kelly Jones watches as her chickens eat a bowl of oatmeal inside a pen at her Aleppo home Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Jones ordered her birds through the mail.

It can get noisy at the Sewickley post office.

Amid sounds of workers stamping envelopes and boxes, patrons might hear peeping, buzzing or cheeping coming from some boxes in the back.

The post office gets a variety of shipped animals, including chickens, bees and crickets.

Postmaster Anthony Manno said the Sewickley post office doesn't get as many animals as the one in Waynesburg, where he worked until a year ago.

But the local facility gets its fair share, he said.

Bees, contained in what looks like small screen doors, are routed through the post office. “They don't bother you as long as the queen is there,” post office clerk Nancy Rossi said.

Stephen Repasky said he often ships and receives bees through the mail. Most of the time, packages contain more than 10,000 bees, a queen bee and food.

A single queen bee also can be shipped.

Repasky, president of Pittsbugh-based Burgh Bees, said bees have been sent through the mail for at least 50 years, but it has become more popular thanks to the Internet and because the number of bee farmers has increased. The group works to educate people about bees.

“Problems experienced by shipping bees this way include overheating due to mishandling or the occasional package breaking open, again due to mishandling,” he said. “But, generally speaking, it's a very safe way to transport honey bees.”

While the Sewickley post office receives boxes of crickets and other creatures, Rossi said, baby chicks are the cutest.

“We hear them peeping, and we stick our fingers in the hole in the box and pet their beaks,” she said.

The post office does not keepstatistics on animals shipped, spokeswoman Cathy Yarosky said.

“Anyone who wants to mail animals through the (postal service) must call us ahead of time to let us know so that we can make sure we have flights available that will accept live animals,” she said.

Jennifer Klingbeil said she ordered chickens by mail because most local hatcheries had chicks in the spring, and she didn't want to wait.

“I simply looked Murray McMurray Hatchery up online and chose based on which breeds were available,” the Sewickley resident said.

Sewickley Heights resident Andrea Bergdoll owns 16 chickens in five varieties.

She orders some chickens through the mail, and keeps catalogs from different hatcheries.

She said she ordered by mail because she wanted varieties of birds that were in danger of becoming extinct, based on a scale through Pittsboro, N.C-based American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Bergdoll said chicks are shipped overnight a day after they hatch, with shipping costs of about $5 a bird.

She advises informing the post office that chicks are coming, and asking a worker to call when they arrive.

With eight hens and a rooster, Aleppo resident Kelly Jones is familiar with having animals shipped.

“Tell the post office to call you as soon as the chicks get there, even if it's late,” she said.

“I've been there at 3 a.m. before. The chicks are pretty delicate, and they need to be fed right away and kept quiet because they've had a long ride in the box.”

Shipping chickens might be convenient, but not all survive the ride, Jones said.

“The minimum order is usually 15, but they will put some extra in there that they know probably won't make it just to keep the body heat going,” she said.

Jones said she decided to buy mail-order chickens because she wanted an uncommon breed that she couldn't find at local hatcheries.

Over the years, she has mail-ordered “meat” chickens — which she butchers herself after about six to eight weeks — and ducks. She has ordered chicks from Craigslist, which she had sent to the Sewickley post office.

Yarosky said the post office has restrictions on animal shipments.

“There are special boxes approved for live-animal mailing that must be used,” she said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.