We have a Google+ page, but on our homepage we have ~280 +1s:
Is there any way to connect those likes to the business page? We have used the rel=publisher thing. Or do we have to start fresh like we have?
Yes, according to this Google blog post you can combine all your +1s from Google+, your site and search results.
You can also link your site to your Google+ page so that all your +1s -- from your Page, your website, and search results -- will get tallied together and appear as a single total.
You can link your site to your Page either using the Google+ badge or with a piece of code. To set this up, visit our Google+ badge configuration tool.
I assume that's in your settings somewhere. It may not be there right now as they say they're introducing the badge in the coming days.