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The business of bees PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 17:07

Willing to adopt your pesky swarms and now 75 hives strong, Bethel’s Seven Hills Honey sells both great taste and healthy living

  As a result of the steadily declining honey bee population in recent years, Bethel’s Seven Hills Honey farm in Port Washington has been buzzing with business.
    The company started with one bee hive six years ago and today manages 75 hives throughout Ozaukee County.
    The owners, Bethel and Mike Metz, decided to begin the local honey business to help their son, Baker, who was taking steroids to treat his asthma, eczema and allergies.
    “I got kind of got tired of going along that route. All of my research led me to treating him with local raw honey like topical balms and salves from local beeswax,” said Bethel Metz, noting her son’s health conditions are now being managed with honey products.
    According to Metz, honey that is produced within a 30-mile radius of where consumers live contains local pollens that can make people immune to environmental and seasonal allergies.
    “If you expose yourself to the pollen in small quantities by eating the raw honey, your body will naturally build up an immunity to them,” she said. “Your body tends to preferably digest honey easier than refined sugar, which is better for your digestive system. Raw honey also has enzymes that make it similar to eating yogurt, which makes it a probiotic.”
    Metz also said using raw honey to treat flesh wounds and other skin conditions also works wonders.
    “Certain hospitals are treating MRSA and staff infections by using honey,” she said. “It clears the skin up remarkably.”
    The company also makes salves out of the beeswax from the hives, which is recommended to treat eczema.
    Before Bethel’s Seven Hills Honey began its operations, the Metz family worked with the City of Port Washington to adopt an urban bee-keeping policy.
    “There was a six-month period in which my name was in the press quite frequently and also the topic of urban bee keeping. So everywhere I would go people would say, ‘Oh, you’re the bee lady, do you have any honey for sale?’” Metz said. “Through the notoriety we get calls to pick up swarms when it is honey bee swarming season. My husband and I are the only two people in southeastern Wisconsin who do feral hive removal.”
During honey bee swarming season, bees will take residence underneath a soffit or overhanging eave of a home. The beekeepers safely remove the bees and place them in one of their 75 hives.
“When we look at hive placement, we tend to stay away from conventional farms,” Metz said. “Typically, people think honey bees should be raised out in the country but the problem with that is they’re subjected to higher ratios of insecticide, pesticides and genetically modified crops.”
The Metz family is combating the diminishing number of bees by keeping them away from areas that are subjected to harmful chemicals. They also keep their raw honey separated by the locations and seasons in which it is produced.
    “People in Saukville can have honey that is produced right in Saukville. While it would all fall into that 30-mile radius, to us it’s more beneficial to eat the honey that is literally produced right in your own backyard,” Metz said.
    The locations of the various hives are stationed on residential properties, which are voluntarily offered by the owners.
    “We tell people it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. There’s a lady out in Saukville who has an apple orchard. She is able to get pollination from our bees and also we’re able then to maintain more hives then we otherwise would if we didn’t have that property,” Metz said.
Previously, the company exclusively sold its honey products at the Port Washington Farmers Market, but for the first time this year it is branching out to the farmers markets in Saukville, Grafton, Cedarburg and Kewaskum. Bethel’s Seven Hills Honey is also used at local restaurants in Port Washington, such as Java Dock Cafe and Tello’s Grill & Cafe.
“When people say at Tello’s ‘Hey we really like your baklava,’ the owner tells them it’s made from honey right here in Port Washington. Everyone knows at Java Dock that the honey lattes are being produced from the honey we make,” Metz said. “People really stepped behind us to support the idea of having someone in Port Washington who is a beekeeper, and they have continued to support us in our business.”

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