The “Toy” Catalog

By Charlotte Hubbard

Page 13.

Yes, all the way to page 13 of the 2012 Walter T. Kelley catalog. That’s how far I made it this year before I started dog-earring the pages of things I couldn’t live without. When the catalog comes in the mail I feel like I’m a four-year-old again, looking through the toy catalog. If only that Santa Claus thing still worked...

Technically, I found the first items I needed on page 6 of the Kelley’s catalog. Page 6 is where you order bees, which I always have to do. My overwintering success rate is about the same as my local weather forecaster’s ability to predict the weather.

As long as I’m getting new bees (again), I want the stingless kind. God actually makes those, but they don’t make much honey. Come to think about it, I already have a few hives that fit that description; unfortunately, the “don’t make much honey” part, not the “stingless” part.

I have enough hive bodies, but I scrutinized those pages anyway, searching for Varroa-free hives. They’re probably featured in the non-existent ‘fantasy products’ section, along with the hives that have a spout on the side you open to extract honey.

Page 13, the location of my first “desperately need this” item, features the ‘Gable Roof Copper Top Hive Cover’. It is beautiful. I’ve seen them in apiaries and they’re really eye-catching. If my bees don’t make honey, at least they’d look good not doing it.

After page 13, I made it all the way to page 31, ‘Tools.’ I need another several dozen hive tools, because those fly from the apiary even faster than bees chasing a beekeeper who was stupid enough to check a hive at dusk. As that beekeeper, I can attest to how fast bees can fly.

I dog-eared the gifts and promotional items pages; I love the humorous signs and license plates. We beekeepers can’t take ourselves too seriously. Because, for example, when you get stung 26 times because you opened a hive at dusk, all you can really do (beyond swell and itch) is laugh at yourself (and apply lots of sting relief products, found on page 61.)

I’m thinking I need to order myself the Queen Bee sign. But, it isn’t all about me—it’s all about my bees. Thus, I’d like to order them a sign also, although Kelley’s doesn’t make it, yet. It would read:

[note color="#eeeeee"]

No swarming!
But, if you must:

  • Provide 48 hours (or more) notice

  • Temperature and humidity must both be well below 90

  • Swarm only when beekeeper is watching

  • Holiday swarming prohibited

  • Settle only on small branches no more than 5 feet off the ground, within my yard

  • Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Hey, it seems worth trying. I’ve done everything the books recommend and my bees still swarm on me.

I spent lots of time looking at the protective clothing section. I appreciated the disclaimer, “All of our clothing is made to be sting resistant, but not sting proof!” The cautions should also include “Caution: protective clothing can only be protective IF it is worn and not left in the garage while beekeeping.” I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

Actually, I suspect, er, I know I haven’t learned it, but will have the chance to at least a couple times this season. (Note to self: order plenty more of the sting relief products, page 61.)

[pullquote align="right"]If you don’t have your own 2012 Kelley’s catalog, email us at[/pullquote]One of my favorite items is on page 89, the 72-Frame Stainless Steel Extractor. I don’t think I’ve ever had 72 total frames to extract, much less all at one time. So, I certainly don’t need one of those, but it is fun to think about having an apiary that size and that productive. (Although I suspect the fun starts to decline around pulling honey from the 50th hive or so.)

If you are ordering one of those behemoth extractors, would you let me know so I can hang out for a while? Not only would I like to see an operation of that size, I’d like to meet bees that actually make honey!

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