By Mike Barnhardt
ADVANCE - Caleb Mathis got a round of applause from his class at Shady Grove Elementary School last month.
The 9-year-old son of Shannon and Stephanie Mathis was showing his classmates the ribbons he had just won. The ribbons were huge - and they represented an even bigger accomplishment. Caleb had won the best of show in the honey division at the N.C. State Fair.
It wasn’t the first time he had been in front of his class. With the help of his grandfather, Barron Church, Caleb had explained to the students how a beehive works, and the importance of bees. The family operates Bixby Honey Farm, and sell “nature’s most perfect food” at area farmer’s markets.
Caleb has been helping his grandfather as long as he can remember.
“My favorite part is smoking the bees,” he said. “When we go in the hives, it makes the bees mad and when we smoke them, it calms them down.”
Caleb can tell you that bees make the honey in mid- to late spring and early summer. The bees keep the inside of the hive at 92º.
“Grandpa will get a hand truck and put hives on it. We take a few frames with no bees and put them into a slinger and it slings all the ...