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Extracting honey

Beekeeper Matt Schultz of Reedsburg works with fellow beekeeper John Rogers of Baraboo and the two have nearly 750 hives, which makes for 40,000 to 80,000 honeybees per hive.

Hundreds of honeybees buzzing around a hive is a sight that scares most people, but for beekeepers John Rogers and Matt Schultz, it’s just business.

Rogers, of Baraboo, and Schultz, of Reedsburg, have been busy beekeeping for the past three years and the next several weeks are going to get busier for the two men.

Rogers, president of the Sauk County Beekeepers Association and owner of Rogers Pure Honey, said two years ago he and Schultz decided to partner their businesses. The two now have 750 hives with each hive containing 40,000 to 80,000 honeybees.

Now, the two are extracting honey from those hives.

“We have hives from Lyndon Station to Merrimac to Lime Ridge to the Wisconsin Dells,” said Schultz, of Schultz Pure Honey. “We get about five gallons of honey for every 10 of our bee boxes.”

Schultz, a third generation beekeeper, said he wanted to keep the family business buzzing. “My dad got me into it just like my grandfather got him interested in it,” Schultz said. “It was just important for me to keep it going.”

Rogers said he started in beekeeping as a hobby, but he has become more involved in it as the years progressed.

“People really don’t realize how important bees are to our food supply,” Rogers said. “Every third bite you take of food has been pollinated by a bee. We need them around to pollinate our fruits and vegetables.”

Now Schultz and Rogers are in the process of enjoying the fruits of their labor, which is extracting honey, a simple but time-consuming process.

Rogers said in each bee box lie slatted racks that fit inside where the bees produce honey. The bees then produce wax that caps the honey securely in the racks.

The racks are then removed from the bee boxes and placed into a honey extracting machine that removes the caps and the wax and releases the honey. The racks are then placed into a centrifuge, which spins at a high rate of speed to get the honey from the racks and into a bulk tank. Inside the tank, the honey is heated to 100 degrees and moved through tubes and filters before it is bottled for distribution.

Rogers and Schultz have two centrifuge machines — one that fits 30 frames and another that holds 72 frames. It takes nearly 45 minutes to get five gallons of honey from the smaller machine.

“We filter our honey at least six times throughout the entire process to make sure we remove any impurities,” Rogers said. “If it’s going to have our names on it, it’s going to be good.”

The two men sell the honey at their homes. For more information on beekeeping, call Rogers at (608) 963-8389 or Schultz at (608) 495-2461.

If you go

• What: Sauk and Columbia counties honey producers meeting

• When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday Aug. 9

• Where: A4 Lecture Hall,

University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County, 1006 Connie Road