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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    San Juan Islands, WA, USA
    Posts
    32

    Default Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    Here's my recent experience with Western:

    I always wanted to run 8-frame hives. They’re lighter weight for my lousy back and wrists, and they allow the bees to expand vertically a bit more.

    I checked the local(ish) suppliers, and none of them mentioned having any 8 frame ware. Kelley’s had some advertised, but the shipping from Kentucky was way too expensive. Western Bee Supplies in Montana had great prices and good-looking products, but also didn’t mention 8-frame items anywhere on their website. So I gave up and just ordered 10-frame components from Western.

    Then, a day after my order arrived, I noticed that Western had changed their website and all of a sudden on the home page they mentioned that they’ve been making 8-frame ware for 30 years! And they said — explicitly — that they offered tele-covers in the 8-frame size. So I called them up to ask if I could trade in my new 10-frame covers and screened bottoms for 8-frame ones. (I figured Bob and I could just cut down the hive boxes ourselves, because we didn’t want to pay the postage to send them back.)

    No, Western said, our website is mistaken: we can’t make telescoping covers in the 8-frame size because we don’t have the tin. (They have since updated their website to reflect this unavailability.) Fine, I said: Send me the telescoping covers without tin and Bob and I will buy our own tin at Home Depot and attach it.

    Vicki at Western Bee reluctantly agreed, although she did inform me that since all 8-frame ware has to be custom made, they could not guarantee any delivery date and it would be a while because there was a big order to fill ahead of mine. She also took the trouble rather grumpily to point out that THIS is why my insistence on 8-frame ware is so impractical, and why hardly anyone uses it.

    “I think more people are using it these days,” I offered meekly.

    “No, they’re not!” Vicki was emphatic. “I’ve been in the business for 19 years and I can tell you that 10-frame is the standard everywhere and it hasn’t changed.” I figured if I kept the argument going any longer I might not get my new tops and bottoms til 4th of July, so I backed down politely and expressed gratitude.

    Then I waited. And waited. Bob cut the 10-frame boxes down to 8-frame, and put new dovetail corners in. The bees were ready to come home, so he also made temporary tops and bottoms for the hives and we set things up.

    Now comes the package from Western. And, guess what… instead of each telescoping cover coming with two long pieces for the 19 7/8 inch side and two short pieces for the 13 3/4 inch side, each cover came with four short side pieces. (See photo). So we have to raid Bob’s shop again for wood, to make up the missing long pieces. Grrrr.
    Last edited by Betsy Sharp; 04-27-2010 at 01:33 AM. Reason: needed to add photo link

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,791

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    Well, the fact that Western Bee Supply as well as Mann Lake, Betterbee and Walter T. Kelley have added eight frame equipment to their catalogs in the last two years would indicate there is a demand for it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,027

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    They've been really struggling. One of the clubs I'm in was recently shorted a few thousand pieces on our order, meaning all the beginners who had packages arriving had no side bars for their frames and no ends for their boxes. Unbelievable.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Greenwich, NY
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    I believe Dadant bought them out several years ago so they could outsource their wooden working operation closer to cheaper lumber. At least that is what I was told at a club meeting a few months back.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Heavener Oklahoma
    Posts
    928

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    I Bought 100 5 fr nuc and 50 tops from westernbeesupply about 2 years ago

    Very nice packed on 2 pallets there was not any pieces missing every thing was perfect.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    I had Western Bee bring an order to WAS to save on the shipping. I didn't have a chance to go through till after it was over. They had brought the wrong top bars.

    I e-mailed them, asking if I had asked for the wrong thing, they e-mailed back with what I had ordered and asked if I didn't get it. I double checked and let them know that I got a different top bar. They promptly mailed the correct ones and told me to keep the others.

    Good customer service from my view.

    Pugs

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    North Bend, WA
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    Western bee pretty routinely messes up orders. At least, from what I've been able to see. They always fix their mistakes, but expect a round or two of working things out.

    I order my 8-frame gear by the pallet (from a WA manufacturer) and sell off what I don't need to the locals (shipping 1/2 pallet or full is the same). There's lots of demand for it even if the local suppliers haven't realized it yet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Polson, MT
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    We've had some problems in our shipping department this past year - too many human errors. I believe in second chances and I gave a couple of them. Some changes have been made effective last week and although mistakes will always occur if there's human interaction, our customers will see a minimal amount of errors from now on.

    Rick
    Western Bee

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    Last year we had a big order on deeps and supers from Western Bee. Other then a wait (but we ordered early as we were told there would be a wait) all the woodware arrived on pallets in good condition, cut tight, and it was all there.

    I think it says something that they are willing to admit they had some problems and have worked to correct them. They have a good product and if they have fixed some of their personnel issues (though i never experienced these) seems to be if they are running the best prices they deserve a second chance.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    Well, after the customer service I received, I'll be ordering more from them. I feel a bit guilty that I didn't go through the order while they were here.

    Pugs

  11. #11

    Default Re: Western Bee Supplies, Polson, Montana

    My only order from Western happened several years ago (2006 or 7?). I ordered a pallet of 8-frame medium supers and frames. After wrangling shipping to Alaska, they finally arrived: a pallet of 10-frame medium supers and frames.

    I wasn't about to ask them to eat the freight to fix the order and I needed boxes pretty much immediately.

    After that, I have a new rule: buy hives and major components in person or build your own. There are two component dealers in Alaska and both are as remote to me as the dealers in the Lesser 48, so I build my own.

    Another note: I second the opinion that Vicky was professional and friendly over the phone. It just didn't help get my order correct, is all.
    The World Beehive Project - I build one of every popular beehive in the world!

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