Bottles of honey are arranged in a honeycomb shaped case on the back wall of the Bohman Bee Company Down Home Country Store in Hanover. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Bottles of honey are arranged in a honeycomb shaped case on the back wall of the Bohman Bee Company Down Home Country Store in Hanover. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Though retirement is still several years away, John and Danette Bohman have figured out their next family venture and hobby.

It's their plan bee, to be precise.

The owners of Pride Supermarket in Hanover recently opened the Down Home Country Store, which features numerous local and all-natural products, as well as the family's local raw honey.

The Bohmans have been involved in beekeeping for the past three years, selling to nearby residents at the Madison Farmers Market and even to wholesalers around the area.

But the shop, which opened Dec. 7 at 244 W. LaGrange Road in Hanover, is the next step in what the couple envisions as their post-retirement project.

"It's been several years in the making," said Danette Bohman, who also teaches at Southwestern Elementary School.

Since picking up beekeeping in 2010, the Bohmans have expanded to 90 hives spread out through four different counties in the area. The harvested raw honey is mostly basic wildflower honey - meaning the bees pollinated a variety of flowers - but they do sell a blackberry honey made solely from bees who pollinate blackberry bushes.

The family harvests the honey about three times a year in the summer and fall. The spring is reserved for maintaining the hives.

Once the honey is harvested, it is cut, extracted and then bottled. They also use the beeswax to make candles. The honey is processed at the workspace in the Bohmans' new store.

The end result is raw honey, meaning it's not filtered or pasteurized and still includes the natural nutrients.

The Down Home Country Store was originally a car wash and has been office space since the Bohmans purchased the property 20 years ago. They spent about a year renovating the property into a quaint store and workspace.

John said he started keeping bees after his brother began the hobby. Actually, beekeeping had been in the Bohmans' family before that; his father and grandfather both raised bees.

John said his brother's goal was just to see if he could keep a few bees alive. From there, he developed his own hives and gave a sworm of bees to John and Danette.

Not surprisingly, John and Danette's sons also have picked up the hobby as well. The couple has four children, including 22-year-old triplets.

John said his sons helped lay out of the vision of the company and continue plans to expand the business down the road.

"Everybody contributes their own strengths," Danette said.

In the future, the family envisions putting in a small room at the store for meetings and providing visitors with information about beekeeping.

"We want it to be kind of a learning place and resource for beekeepers," John said.