100-year-old resort helps keep Paynesville buzzing

Minnesota is known not only for its countless lakes but also the beautiful resorts where Minnesota natives and visitors alike can spend a week or more relaxing by the waterfront.

The Bug-Bee Hive Resort has more than 100 years of history in central Minnesota. The all-season resort is third generation – one might even say the fourth generation because the owner’s son has made quite a name for himself. 

"We're on what we effectually call Bee-Utiful Lake Koronis," said Paul Bugbee, owner of the Bug-Bee Hive Resort.

The bumblebee puns are alive and well for the Bugbee family, whose 35 cottages all have bee-themed names. The guests inside the cottages keep the Bugbee family members as busy as a bee all year round but especially this time of year.

Bugbee’s grandpa bought the land on Lake Koronis in 1920, and they’ve kept it in the family ever since.

"There's a lot of blood sweat and tears that go into this business for any resort owner, and obviously, there's a lot of emotion with it. It's just you kind of build it year after year, cottage after cottage, amenity after amenity," Bugbee said.

That history now includes his son, Ben Bugbee, who may just become a fourth-generation owner in a few years.

"Lake Koronis used to have 14 resorts in its heyday. Now, we have just this one. So we are the largest resort on Lake Koronis, and we are easily the largest resort in a 20-mile radius," Ben Bugbee said.

And Ben Bugbee is definitely the worker bee of the hive.

"When the summer is on, you are on 100 percent of the time, whether it's that call at 3 o’clock in the morning because the fire alarms going on because somebody burnt a little bacon as their midnight snack or it's just they want to get out on the water you have to be accommodating with that," Bugbee said.

The resort is open year-round, but the busiest season is from the middle of June through Labor Day, with the Fourth of July being the peak.

Like most business owners, the Bugbees were worried in 2020, with business down about 12 percent. But the guests came back to the hive.

"Last year was a record year for us – very busy – and this year is looking very good, as well," Paul Bugbee said.

Families from Minnesota and beyond have built lasting memories here, with a 75 percent repeat business.

"We have a lot of guests who've been coming upwards of 50 years in a row – consecutive years, so they're into their third and fourth generations coming to the resort, as well," Paul Bugbee said.

And it's that history that keeps the Bugbees doing what they love, as they prove that this resort is the place to bee.

"The history and the heredity keep us in the business more than anything else does. It's that sense of pride in what you have," he said.