Thread Number: 38777  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
Douglas Busy Bee
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Post# 411944   7/23/2019 at 15:13 (346 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Hey all,

Just wanted to share, in the only place where I might not be thought of as crazy.
It's not big. It's not fancy. It has no accessories. I probably overpaid for it.
But, I think it's adorable, and it just arrived at its new home.
Yes folks, a Douglas Busy Bee hand vac!
My first and only previous knowledge of them was when a video of someone destroying one came up in my suggested videos.
I didn't watch the video, as that's not my thing.
But, the little vacuum, as well as its name, immediately appealed to me.
I swore, if I ever found one, I would give it a good, loving home.
They don't seem to show up very often, but one finally did. And now, I own it.
It's in quite nice cosmetic condition, runs and works fine, (albeit kind of loud), and doesn't even have any funky "old vacuum" smells to it.
I'm curious as to approximately when these were made, if anyone knows.
Were they a department store vacuum? If so, any store/stores in particular?
I'm also wondering if there's a disposable bag that can be used inside the cloth bag on these.


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This post was last edited 07/23/2019 at 15:49

Post# 411949 , Reply# 1   7/23/2019 at 17:40 (346 days old) by Rowdy141 (Biryani)        

Hi Barry,

If you are crazy, so are we all. No-one will notice here 😁.

That looks like a 1970's version of the earlier Hoover Dustette. A vac intended for little jobs (breadcrumbs), instead of pulling out the main machine and feeling the need to vacuum everywhere. They came in many flavours over the years.

The Dustette was metal with a bakelite handle. It had a shake-out cloth bag with bayonet fitting. You can buy paper inner bags for these but they're just simple paper bags. No topper. Like the ones your greengrocer uses. I think you're supposed to fit them with and elasticated strap?

You may find that it doesn't have much oomph. A paper internal bag may make its performance worse.

Then came the famous "Dirt Devil". A lightweight plastic variant of the Dustette that's still going today.

For a while there was a battery-operated version in this style. It couldn't pick up confetti from a table top!

Some were 12v, for use in a car/caravan. They couldn't clean floor mats. On ours, the lead wouldn't even reach to the rear car seats! There were no tools either. So you couldn't clean between seats. No wonder so many still have their pristine box.

Some manufacturers offered this style of vacuum (in a bundle?) to compliment your bigger machine. There's one in matching garb to go with the kirby Legend II.

In the 1980's, when rechargeable batteries were coming in, there was of course a rechargeable version with a charging/docking station.

Post# 411951 , Reply# 2   7/23/2019 at 17:52 (346 days old) by aaron158 (Canada)        

i have the Kirby version of this its a pretty nice little machine for cleaning up small messes.

if u ever have to replace the belt in it a dirty devil type 2 works perfectly.

Post# 411958 , Reply# 3   7/23/2019 at 22:23 (346 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
I too have a bee vac I have original box and manual. If you have seen the Kirby vacuette this is the same thing. They are not 70s they were produced earliest 1985-1992. The vacuette it resembles was for Kirby heritage. I believe first Kirby vacuette was black and that's when this was made.
They do sell disposable speed bags they fit the busy bee and Douglas aardvark not sure about Kirby vacuette. If you notice in pictures of the box.
Scott and Fetzer company.
Douglas is a company owned by Scott fetzer.
Scott fetzer is Kirby owned by Berkshire Hathaway company (Warren buffet company).
I actually like this vacuum better than vacuette. It's better than dirt devil's or royal princes'.

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Post# 411959 , Reply# 4   7/23/2019 at 22:37 (346 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        
Sister vacuum

lesinutah's profile picture
They have similar vacuums.
I'll list what I know
Sears black and Decker powermate (I own one)
Kirby vacuette(I own 2, they had black with gold writing, burgundy and white gold and black lettering( I own 2 burgundy ones)
Douglas aardvark it's white like busy bee and orangish red where busy bee is yellow. I think busy bee was made with black vacuette and Burgundy vacuette the aadvark was made replacing bee vac.
Oreck powermate. It's similar to Sears and I don't have one.
Iona/Regina dirt raider they are white with blue bag with white dots. I own one the brush is 6.5 inches, vacuette and busy bee 4-4.5 inches. It's bigger
Little lux is white I don't have.
Douglas readivac 91051a is part number for bags
I know there is a couple more but Hoover was made before bee vac. It's not related but it's pretty similar.

Post# 411967 , Reply# 5   7/24/2019 at 05:50 (346 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Thank you for the replies!
Les, that's a great example!
Thank you for the great pictures. I'd love to have the box and paperwork with mine. But they seem kind of hard to find in general...never mind that complete!
When I was looking for info, I found an old thread where a member had found one in its original box that someone had thrown away.
That thread also had some pictures of the same vacuum, sold under different names.
I find that interesting!
One picture showed an accessory kit for the Craftsman version, with a hose and attachments.
I hope I don't feel the need to go on some sort of quest for other versions now!
I'm about one UPS delivery away from getting kicked to the curb!


Post# 412013 , Reply# 6   7/25/2019 at 14:43 (344 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        
Washable bag

I'm wondering if anyone has washed the washable cloth bag on one of these.
Although the one I bought is quite clean, I figure a little freshening up couldn't hurt.
Does anyone have any suggestions for the best way to go about it?
I would imagine it's pretty straightforward. I just don't want to use the wrong detergent, or do anything to cause damage to it.


Post# 412014 , Reply# 7   7/25/2019 at 14:53 (344 days old) by aaron158 (Canada)        

i washed the bag on the Kirby one that i have. i put it on cold water and once its done just let it air dry no dryer.

Post# 412021 , Reply# 8   7/25/2019 at 21:07 (344 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
I washed mine I think with a hoodie or towel as it had lots of little fuzzies. Just use lint roller after but I just throw in and use tide pod cold water. You can dry but I don't dry vacuum bags.
The vacuuette doesn't have as many fuzzies. The Craftsman and dirt raider have same amount of fuzzies as busy bee. The Kirby bag is better as it's same material they made legend vacuums.

Post# 412029 , Reply# 9   7/26/2019 at 05:46 (344 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Okay. Thanks.
For down the road, when I buy more of these in different names, (which I know I'm going to end up doing):
What do you think my chances are of being able to find replacement outer bags for them?
A quick, initial search on eBay didn't turn up anything.
Someone on Amazon lists one, new, that looks grey, but they also want more for it than I paid for the vacuum.
I wonder if Jimmy (rugsucker) has any floating around his shop.


Post# 412031 , Reply# 10   7/26/2019 at 08:34 (344 days old) by rugsucker (Elizabethton TN)        
"--any(Douglas)floating around his shop."

Douglas--might be 1 or 2 Kirby versions.Have had Sears,probably gone.
Other--Basic red Dirt Devils,one for cars.Regina Dirt Magnet.Many aluminum(polished & painted)straight suction & revolving brush.Various brands and conditions.All but 1 DD need to GO!

Post# 412035 , Reply# 11   7/26/2019 at 10:38 (343 days old) by kloveland (Tulsa, OK)        
It is.

I like them better than the dirt devil/royal hand vacs. I also like the Regina Dirt Magnet/Little Lux it is aggressive. Just wish the build quality wasn't so cheap!

Post# 412041 , Reply# 12   7/26/2019 at 11:55 (343 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Thanks. I sent you a message.

This is actually my first experience with any hand vacs, so I don't have anything to compare it to.
But, when I tried it out, it seemed to pick up pretty good!
It was the cuteness factor of the "Busy Bee" that drew me to it.
But, knowing my hoarding/OCD tendencies, I know I'm going to end up owning them in other brands.

I had never heard of the Dirt Raider.
I checked, and there was one on eBay.
It seems slightly different from most of the other versions. Very similar, but the others seem pretty much identical, aside from the color.


Post# 412060 , Reply# 13   7/26/2019 at 19:49 (343 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        
My bad

lesinutah's profile picture
Iona became Regina then in became fantom vacuums then it went bankrupt.
The Iona dirt magnet . I do have a dirt raider. I think it's Sears vacuum. It's named after Indiana Jones movie.
Iona is the baddest handvac I have. I have alot I would guess close to 20.

Post# 412190 , Reply# 14   7/29/2019 at 16:31 (340 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        
I bought another one.

Okay. I knew it would happen.
This time, I got a Douglas ReadiVac Pow'rBrush.
It's grey, with a blue name plate and has the headlight.
It works great, including the light.
There are two issues that I see.
The bag is red, and appears to be from the Craftsman version.
And, the piece that snaps in around the brushroll is missing.
Anyone have a parts machine, and willing to sell that part?
Sorry, I have no idea what it's called.

Also; does anyone know what the correct color bag would be for this version?
I'm thinking blue, to match the name plate would look great.
But, grey, like the Oreck version would work, since the main body is light grey.


Post# 412338 , Reply# 15   8/3/2019 at 13:47 (335 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
I will check later to see if I can find a label for my Remy manual for my vacuum. The parts are interchangeable on all of vacuums. So if you're peace love your side of your brush roll the little caps on the end is missing you can order one cap from Kirby. This would be the same for almost every vacuum. if not I believe I have manuals for almost all of the vacuums in which you can order parts through them or you can order replacement parts.

Post# 412349 , Reply# 16   8/3/2019 at 18:47 (335 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        
Thanks, Les

You think they would still have replacement parts for a vacuum from the '90s?
It's actually not a brush roll end that's missing.
It's the rectangular piece that snaps onto the underside of the vacuum and more or less surrounds the brush roll.


This post was last edited 08/03/2019 at 19:11
Post# 412354 , Reply# 17   8/3/2019 at 22:39 (335 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
Could you take a pic. I think I know what you are talking about. Kirby might sale parts. I'm sure there are replacement parts.

Post# 412505 , Reply# 18   8/7/2019 at 19:00 (331 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        
Hey, Les

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond.
I don't have a picture of the part that I need, but here's where it goes on the vac.


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Post# 412618 , Reply# 19   8/11/2019 at 23:17 (327 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
I may have an extra one. I trashed a vacuette a while ago. I took a couple pics.
I have a eureka Corvette hand vac. I have a dirt devil plus I have the hose it's not in pic, I have dirt devil platinum force, lastly the riccar spruce with the oh so pretty led lights.
I thought you might like to see them.

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Post# 412627 , Reply# 20   8/12/2019 at 06:20 (327 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Thanks, Les.
If you find that piece from the Vacuette, and want to sell it, let me know.
You can PM me, or use the e-mail address in my profile.
If you use my e-mail address, just put something about vacuum parts, or Vacuette or something in the subject, so I'll know what it is.


Post# 412654 , Reply# 21   8/12/2019 at 23:48 (326 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
Pm me if you would. I'd post more just tired.
PS you see the riccar it's truly a beautiful vacuum.

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