Our Beekeeping Employees

We pride ourselves on having beekeeping employees—it helps us better serve you. Plus, when you both use and manufacture equipment, you’re triple-checking quality, and are always looking for ways to enhance products, or add new ones.

To help all employees become beekeepers, or at least truly understand the amazing workings of a beehive, the Walter T. Kelley Company decided that all employees needed to take ownership of a hive. We also felt it would be a fun way of sharing the facts of a hive.


Each work team started with an assembled box, assembled frames (lucky them), wax foundation, and many different color paints in order to decorate the hives. The whole company got involved!

The Sales & Office team created a hive with the 1-800-233-2899 incorporated in it.

The Sewing team created a colorful hive as seen in July’s newsletter. Shipping built an observation hive that proudly displays UPS and US Mail logos; the Wood Shop, Assembly, Metal, and Wax all created beautiful hives.

After painting was complete early last spring, each team prepared their hives for their forthcoming shipment of package bees. We also added a top bar hive at the last minute to the mix.

Package Installation

When the bees arrived on a Friday, Kelley employee and beekeeper Mike Curry and I went around and showed the departments how to install a package into their hives.

The importance of keeping feed available was explained—they needed to get those bees drawing the wax foundation so each queen would have a place to lay eggs and for future honey stores.

Checking Hive Health

Seven to ten days after installation, inspections began. Although the crowd and interest had waned somewhat, those who still wanted to know were right there learning what to look for and how to assess hive healthy.

First it was important to go through to check for the queen. Seeing brood on the frames was always a good sign.

We also looked for stores of food (honey/sugar water) to make sure they were not storing so much that the queen was running out of room to lay, and to ensure they were building adequate stores.

All looked to be doing extremely well, except the Metal Shop, whose queen was nowhere to be found. Even though there was many a trip to try to make the hive right, and a few new queens over the next several weeks, that hive just failed to thrive even though food was aplenty and conditions seemed to be what they needed. As beekeepers will lament, sometimes you just don’t know why.

Checking continued about every two weeks for a while, to assure all was well. As supers were being added and the critical ramp-up time faded, activity was observed more from the outside. Inspections dropped off to once a month or every six weeks unless the activity at the door looked minimal.

We are now preparing the hives for the few months of cold weather and trying (but maybe not succeeding) to get them back down to two boxes unless they are an extremely populated hive and then we will leave them a super. We’ll see where this adventure takes us…

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