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Featured Provider: Rufer Bee & Sweet Bee Honey

Like most family businesses, the kids start to work at a young age. The Rufer boys, Gavin and Keegan, started working on the honey extraction crew with Grandpa Darrel Rufer and in the yards with their dad, Jason Rufer.  Around the boy's 9th birthday, they received 6 hives from grandpa, which make them the 4 generation of beekeepers.  The best way to learn is to be hands on with the bees with the bonus of the honey to sell at the end of the summer.  

As a boy scout, Keegan was working on an entrepreneurship merit badge and needed to set up a business plan, sell a product, and track income and expenses. With the skills of working with the bees, having the honey to sell, and grandpa as a mentor, it was an easy step to start "Sweet Bee Honey".


Bee Info:

The bees are located south of Cokato and the main nectar source is Clover, Basswood and summer wildflowers. 

Where to Find Honey:

Sweet Bee Honey, which is strictly local, and Aunt Sue Bee Honey, which contains Rufer Bee honey, is sold in 1 lb bottles at the following locations in Dassel and Cokato: The Garden Nook, Marketplace, and Design & Fabricating.  If interested in 3lb bottles or bulk, contact us directly. 

Grandpa Rufer started the family beekeeping business in 1977 when he was a chef at a fine dining restaurant in Minneapolis. He found a bevy of bees in a tree outside the restaurant one day and shook them in a box, strapped them to the back of his motorcycle, and took them home. You can read more about his story in this article, "Bee Whisperer: The Hive That Started It All" published at

Photos of the Honey Extraction Process

1. Many hives have been transported to the "honey house" where honey and wax will be extracted from the frames.

2. Here is an example of "burr comb." When the frames become full, bees will make this extra comb outside of the frame.

3. When a bee is done filling a comb (an individual honeycomb cell), they cap it with wax. Here is a photo of capped honeycomb.

4. Here is a frame headed for the "uncapper machine."

5. Here the frames have been uncapped; the wax caps have been removed from the honeycomb.

6. Workers scrape any caps the uncapping machine missed.

7. The machine on the right is the spinner that extracts the honey.

8. This is where drums are filled with honey.

9. Wax and honey are separated in this machine. The honey is spun out while the raw wax stays in the center and falls into a container.

10. Here is what the raw wax looks like.

11. Raw wax is melted into blocks, which can be used to make salves and lip balms, candles, candy, and as painting wax for furniture, for example.

THANK YOU to Dreaming Tree Photography for the photos!


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