Check Your Wooden-ware

Tried to order stuff from Kelley’s again and had the same issue as last year.  The mill-work on this wooden-ware is poor compared to standard Langstroth boxes I have received from Brushy Mountain and Mann Lake.  I always purchase either commercial or budget grade hive bodies which ever is available and cheapest.  I’m not into select grade because I know this stuff is all going to have a lifespan and towards the end everything will eventually be re-purposed into CatchBoxes or Swarm Traps.

Truth in advertising:
Above are some deep boxes that I ordered last winter to help a friend meet their $150 minimum order for free shipping. As you can see from the picture I disagree with statement:

COMMERCIAL GRADE: Our commercial grade woodenware is manufactured from Eastern White Pine. These boxes have some tight knots and blemishes, but the workmanship and fit are still first quality.  (

NOTE crack in rabbet

In February 2016 when I experienced this same issue (See Box-Building Tips) I tried to put one box together without chiseling out the sloppy cuts.  This resulted in the rabbet joint splitting out on the box ends.  Then I had to spend more time fixing that!  After seeing it happen and knowing how many I had to do I was annoyed.  The process of clearing 3/4″ of slop from each side of every board isn’t hard, but it’s definitely and extra step and adds time to assembly.  I sent an e-mail to Kelley Beekeeping about the issue.  Nothing was requested, no refund, no free crap, just that they should know so others wouldn’t have this same issue.  There was no response, and either I issued the only complaint, or they just didn’t care.

Luckily I only had to chisel out four boxes (8-16.25″ box ends) this February instead of 50 (98-16.25″ box ends!!).  Remember….. I put the ONE together without chiseling.  Just remember there are a lot of different sources for wooden-ware out there.  I have never had an issue with other suppliers.  Actually I’ve never had a problem with any other products purchased from Kelley’s, but this has been consistent the last two years from the same supplier.

Where have you been getting your wooden-ware?
Have you happy with the quality and cut?
If so where are you getting good mill-work from?

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3 Responses to Check Your Wooden-ware

  1. Jason Morgan says:

    I stopped using Kelley about 3 years ago mainly due to how they changed up their shipping rates. I’ve bought from Mann Lake ever since. Orders over $100 ship free and most of my orders are over. I have never bought woodenware so I can’t comment, but I do buy all my frames and I’ve bought frames from just about all the suppliers. I find Mann Lake has the best quality frames and plastic foundation. I think it’s called Rite Cell. The plastic is thick and has a deeper cell to start with. The frames are easy to assemble, specifically from the notching they do to the end bars to allow the top bar to more easily fit into place. It’s thick and durable. I buy frames just about every year. Assembled 90 medium and 40 deep frames in the last month. Sad to hear about Kelley. I originally bought from them because they were more “local” to me and the regular shipping still got here in 2 days. One day, I couldn’t believe the change in the shipping costs, so I never looked back.

    • Jason says:

      About the only thing I will continue buying from Kelleys is their F-style DEEP frames.

      As far as boxes Mann Lake habe been the best I have ever dealt with. I always buy > $150 worth so shipping is always free. Mann Lake also has good sales you can get wind of his their Thursday e-mails.

      My main concern is quality from Kelleys…. don’t like swing claims of good millwork… then having to use the chisel…. 🙂

  2. Scott says:


    I had a similar problem with Kelley medium boxes this year. The sides were not flush with one another. on 14 of the 20 medium boxes that I ordered. Some of the sides were off by 3 /16″. I also had to chisel a couple of the box corners to get them to fit. I sent Kelley an email with pictures of the problem along with all the order numbers I have ordered from them. I also did not request anything be done. I just wanted them to know.

    Within about two weeks 14 new boxes showed up at my house. I put those together and they were much better fit. I think I ended up with 19 acceptable boxes out of the 34 that were sent. I have the rest in a pile under a tarp waiting on me to find the time to run them through the table saw to see if they are salvageable.

    We have a local supplier of boxes but they are about $50 higher on 20 boxes than Kelley so I have ordered from them when I have a larger order.

    I also use the F frames in medium boxes and have gotten along well with them so far. I have had a few end bars split this year that were ordered and put in service last year. I will continue to used the F frames for the brood boxes but I am not sure if I will ever order boxes from them again. I might give them one more try since they replaced the poor quality boxes without me asking.

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