A Blue Ribbon from the Kentucky State Fair is a very prestigious honor.
Bullitt County Public School Bus Driver Mike Mabry was awarded his second Blue Ribbon in as many years for the amber honey created by bees on the 80-acre Mabry Cupio Lane Farm in western Bullitt County he shares with his wife, Wanda.
“I was shocked but happy,” Mabry said. “It is flattering. The bees did a great job!”
State fair judges liked the honey’s appearance and texture.
Bear-shaped plastic containers of the amber honey sold for $10 each during the fair’s 11-day run. The Mabry Farm also produces Kentucky Proud Products such as lotion bars, lip balms and soaps.
District Director of Transportation Joe Shepherd gave a shout out to Mabry’s honor.
“We are very proud of Mike’s accomplishment,” Shepherd said.
Mabry worked as a project manager specializing in storm damage repairs. He has extensive travel experience with teams to fix what nature tore apart.
The next chapters of his career occurred almost simultaneously…bee keeping and driving a public school bus.
He currently picks up students for Nichols Elementary, Bullitt Lick Middle and Bullitt Central High Schools on Bus 1193.
“It fits my need,” Mabry said. “I enjoy seeing the kids and I like the Bullitt County route.”
He moved to Bullitt County from Jefferson County 11 years ago and has been busy bee keeping for six years, getting started with an orchard and two hives at which time his father-in-law informed him he needed to “get some bees out there”.
Mabry currently maintains 25 hives and harvests honey twice a year. Honey bees work to produce honey and wax and protect the hive queen until their death.
“The bees tend to live longer in winter because they are not as active,” Mabry said adding the workers nestle around the queen for warmth.
Each Christmas and early spring, he places sugary substances on the hives to nourish the approximate 30,000-50,000 honey bee population.
“Bee season starts earlier than most seasons,” Mabry said.
The greatest challenge is keeping the bees healthy from disease, the elements and invasive species
“Mites are the worst because they can wipe out an entire hive,” Mabry said
Mabry enjoys sitting and watching his bee hives at work. “It is fascinating,” he said.
He recently sent samples of honey to Texas A&M University for analysis and was amazed at the findings.
“The honey was made from maple, rose, sumac, clover and willow,” he said. “That really surprised me in terms of how far the bees travel.”
Mabry enjoys speaking about bee keeping. Through the Bullitt County Cooperative Extension Office, he spoke in Susan Johnson’s science lab class at Freedom Elementary School, let students try on his bee keeping protective clothing, showed them some deceased queens and frames of honey.
“You do get stung when working bees but build a tolerance to it,” he said.
He enjoys working with new bee keepers offering advice on establishing productive hives.
“Ample space, a working knowledge of plant life and patience,” are what Mabry considers key elements to bee keeping.
With natural resources from farm animals such as goats, donkeys, horses and chickens, look for Wanda Mabry’s hand-made craft items at various school events.
The couple has two daughters. Angela is a first grade teacher at Greathouse Elementary School in Jefferson County. Crystal works for Humana in Louisville. They also have five grandchildren.
Contact information for the Mabry Farm is (502) 552-9222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.