Since 1924, we've been committed to supplying beekeepers with quality beekeeping equipment with exceptional value and legendary customer service. Walter T. Kelley was born in 1897 and earned his degree in apiculture from Michigan State University in 1919. In 1924, he began selling package bees and hives locally under the name Gulf Coast Apiaries. While in Louisiana, he met Ida Babin, and they were married in 1926. After the Wall Street crash of 1929, they decided that manufacturing would be more profitable, and after several years of outrageous freight rates across the Mississippi River, Mr. and Mrs. Kelley decided to move what was now known as Gulf Coast Bee Company to Kentucky.
In 1934, with little cash but a lot of perseverance, Kelley reopened the business in Paducah, Kentucky as The Walter T. Kelley Company. Wanting to create an ad campaign that would attract the attention of the consumer, Mr. Kelley created his iconic "Bee Man" and in 1938, the "Bee Man" trademark was registered. He was quoted as saying, "Make a fool of yourself and people will remember you." And it was true - "Kelley the Bee Man" soon became a well-known symbol in the beekeeping world and greatly contributed to the growth of the business.
In November 1952, Mr. Kelley moved his operations 160 miles to Clarkson, KY, where it resides today. In late 2016, Kelley Beekeeping opened a brand-new 82,000 square-foot facility with retail store on those same grounds.
Throughout his career, Mr. Kelley made significant contributions to the beekeeping community, thanks to his innovative mind and numerous creations, from queen cages, ventilated bee gloves and wired foundation to bee blowers and plastic bottom boards. Mr. Kelley's legacy continues to live on in the community since his passing at the age of 80 in 1986. His ability to build a tremendously successful business was only surpassed by his individual grace in developing and improving the community and people around him. In 1986, the company was willed to Twin Lakes Regional Hospital in an operating trust, where a wing now bears his name. You can also find his name on the Walter T. Kelley Building at the Elizabethtown Technical and Community College - Leitchfield Campus.
Today, Kelley Beekeeping is owned by Mann Lake Ltd. of Hackensack, Minnesota, but remains true to Mr. Kelley's vision and strong commitment to his employees, the community, and the beekeeping community.