As Sweet As Honey

An Interview With Luke Pantos – Hobby Honey Farmer

As with many small insects that exist within the warm summer months, bees can make quite a nuisance of themselves while your trying to enjoy or an ice cream or soft drink. But if we take a closer look at what they are doing, we find that they are really involved with the very important job of making one of life’s sweetest tastes.

VIP Queen Bee

Making honey has these buzzing insects busy in and out of their beehives from spring until summer’s end.  It takes cooperation and a sense of duty within the nest for everything to happen as it should in order for the finished product to be achieved.

Within the team there exist different types of bees.  The VIP of them all is the queen bee, so-called because she has the important job of reproducing in order to keep the hive populated.   She reproduces most effectively in her first and second year.

When the queen’s life span of 3-4 years is coming to an end, an extra supply of royal jelly – the food given to all developing larvae, will be given to a few chosen larvae to prepare a new queen.  There is only ever one queen in a hive at a time, so when the new queen is close to emerging, the existing queen will vacate the nest and allow the new queen to take over.

Queen’s Duties

As the new queen emerges, she immediately destroys any other developing queens before flying out of the hive to mate with the drones in order for her to reproduce.  The drones have no other duty but this in their peculiar little lives.  Those that do manage to mate with her will die immediately afterwards.

When a new batch of bees is due to be born the beekeeper has to check that the new bees will not overpopulate the nest, otherwise the queen will leave.  If she does leave the hive, so too will the bees that live with her and the beekeeper will loose that entire bee population.

To avoid this happening the beekeeper will take out the original bee population and give them a new box, or new boxes, so that when the emerging bees are born there will be plenty of space for them and it will not create any problems.

It doesn’t take long for the bees to re-adjust to their new home.  Bees are able to distinguish certain colours. They use both the scent and the colour of the box to know which is their own.

The right Flower

Worker bees have the most recognized job of all.  It is their duty to collect nectar and pollen from the flowers and transport it back to the hive.  Their entire body is designed for this purpose and they are able to carry a load that can be as heavy as their own body weight.

Good flowers are the key to good honey, this is where the expertise of the honey farmer can make a difference.  Honey farmers know the distance the bees would usually go in looking for the right flowers, therefore choosing an area that is within close vicinity to a good flower source is important in getting a good resulting honey produce.

Before the worker bees know where to go for the right flower source, scout bees fly out and decide which flowers will be used.  These scout bees have a special ‘dance’ called the dance of the bees, it tells the other bees the exact location of the chosen flower source.  Their movements tell the bees which way, according to the sun, they must fly.  Even the speed of their buzzing noise carries information as to the distance the worker bees must fly to find the correct flower.

When the bees get to the flower source, they could be presented with a mass of different flower types.  The honey in any hive is only made from one flower type at a time.  Therefore the bees must find the scent left by their own scouts to know specifically which flower group they are to use.

Winter For The Bees

In winter when the temperature decreases to about 5 degrees or lower, the bees accumulate in the middle of the honey box and huddle together forming a tight sphere.  In this way they keep warm.  As the temperature outside warms up and increases to about 14 degrees, the bees begin to emerge from their nest and fly around.  If the temperature happens to drop again, they will once more return to their nest and form their sphere to keep warm.

Apart from their main produce of honey, the bees also create other certain by-products, two of these more well-known products are beeswax and royal jelly.  It is with the beeswax that the bees construct their working environment.  Royal jelly is the compound that the Queen produces to feed the developing larvae.  People eat it as well, but in extremely small quantities, and it has a very high nutritional value.

Honey for Hobby

Honey farming can be as much a hobby as it is a profession, but any honey farmer will tell you that it is also an art.  A keen hobbyist may have as many as 150 boxes, but even that is not enough to sustain a living.  For a farmer to make enough money to have his bees as his full time profession, he will need as many as four to five hundred boxes.

A hobby farmer starting from scratch could use bees from a wild nest found in a tree or bush.  First the bees must be encouraged to stay by giving them food such as a sweet dough substance or a syrup that will keep them from flying off.  Then after a few days, wearing appropriate safety clothing, the farmer would carefully take the entire nest and tap it into his own honey box getting the bees to drop in.

These honey boxes are wooden and have a small entrance at the front where the bees move in and out from.  It is not necessary to get each and every bee into the box, once the queen and most of the bees are in, the remaining bees will soon follow.  The top of the box has a removable lid that the honey farmer opens when he works with the bees.  Inside the box is a set of frames on which the bees will construct their intricate hexagonal architecture of beeswax filled with honey.


At harvesting time, the art of the beekeeper comes into play, where collecting the honey too early will result in an unsatisfactory produce.  The beekeeper must have patience and give the bees enough time to work on the honey as they pass it through their system again and again. Finally, when it is the correct consistency, the bees will cap the honey cups with wax.

When it is ready, the beekeeper will lift the filled frames from the honey boxes and scrape off the wax cappings that cover the hexagonal honey cups.  Then he slides the frames into a cylindrical drum.  The drum spins around fast enough for the honey to fly off the frames.  The honey runs down to the bottom of the cylinder and can then be poured out into containers for collection.

Experience Is What Makes The Difference

It takes many years of experience to understand the bees; what will help them produce well; what will make them desert their hive and fly off to find a new home; what weather makes them more aggressive to work with – all these things take experience and education.

But as with any art, there is a lot to enjoy.  It is an interest that takes you out into the fresh air amongst fragrant and beautiful flowers. And, you get the opportunity to work hand in hand with nature as you assist in producing one of our most precious foods of all.  Honey farming may not turn out to be everybody’s cup of tea but it can definitely make yours, much more tasty.

By Evangelia Zonnios


Long Distance Drives

An interview with Nick from ODOS

I asked Nick from Odos what his advice would be for someone who is about to embark on a long distance drive. “Obviously there would be things relevant to where the person was driving to and at what time of day.

Basically, if you are about to embark on a long distance drive essential things to consider would include being well rested and having planned the trip well ahead, both on paper and in your head. Having planned your trip before leaving makes a difference in your mind while you are moving along busy roads and travelling at high speeds.

When you are approaching an intersection and you know that you have to take an exit it helps when you know what road names you are looking for. Without this kind of prior thinking you have to change your driving speed at unexpected times to check your next move. This can be distracting to other drivers as well as yourself and creates potential hazards.”


Using a GPS as a guide helps a great deal in your bearings. It has made a big impact on how we navigate our journey but even so, having an idea in the back of your mind as to the roads that you will be using helps you have confidence in what you are doing as you move along.

Rest Stops

Nick also advises not getting involved in peak hour traffic by thinking about the timing of your travel. “Personally I would leave early to avoid the build up of traffic at peak hour. I would usually plan my drive so that by the time it is daylight I would be out of the city and onto the main highway. I would take a stop every 2-3 hours, have some refreshment and have a quick check of my car.” Rest stops are important in long drives so that you don’t get drowsy and let your mind loose focus. Sitting in one position for hours at a time is tiring on your muscles too, especially these days with automatic cars. Give your tired muscles a break, get out of the car have a bit of a stretch.


This topic is a straight shooter for Nick. He is very specific about not having any alcohol in your blood stream at the time of commencing your drive and advises drivers to not consume alcohol from as much as 48 hours prior to a long drive. Pre-planning is one of Nick’s favourite strategies in driving and he believes in planning the drive from the week before so that you have time to check that your car is in a safe condition. “Check your oil, water and lights. Check the pressure on your tyres and make sure that if you have any maintenance problems with your car that they are addressed before you go anywhere. Pack your car well and remember not to have and loose objects in the car that can float because they can cause serious injury in the case of a sudden stop.”


His advice, “Keep out of their way.  If they are in a hurry try and pull off the road onto the side so that you can let them pass. Stay clear of trucks. Their reaction time is much slower than yours. Don’t break suddenly if they are close behind you and keep constantly checking ahead and around to be aware of your surroundings and conditions so that you can make a good judgment call to maneuver to safety if necessary.”
Produced for The RoadMinders


Hair Products

Advice from our resident hairdresser Jacob

From my interview with Jacob, I have some very important information for people trying to deal with unruly hair.

Getting your hair to de-frizz when you are getting ready for work or trying to stop it from falling out in handfuls on your hairbrush can be upsetting but it is fixable.
Organic Hair Products

As it turns out we cause a lot of the hair destruction ourselves with bad hair care. Although we often hear about organic products we can be reluctant to purchase them because of the expense comes with it. If we knew for sure that using organic products really did make a difference then maybe we would be more willing to pay that extra dollar.

In cheaper hair products chemicals are used as a synthetic replacement of more natural ingredients that can have a more positive effect on your hair. These synthetic ingredients can be responsible for removing the protein, moisture and keratin from our hair. As a result, the surface of the hair becomes course and damaged.

Through a microscope this looks like the difference between a fresh fruit and decomposing fruit. This may sound dramatic but that is how bad it gets.
Here are some images of a cross section of a hair.The first image shows a hair that has been enriched by the use of good hair products and then in contrast we see the image of a hair that has been damaged by products that have been too harsh on the hair.

Healthy Hair

Damaged Hair

Healthy Hair                Damaged Hair

As with foods, you can read the ingredients in a hair-care product. Natural ingredients are best; mud, plant extracts and herbs can do wonders in repairing your hair. When your hair has been through a lot of heavy treatment with straighteners and colouring you can have quite a job on your hands in regaining healthy hair.

This best way to deal with this is to go through a treatment (usually done at a hair dressing salon, but it can be done at home) with a mask that helps the hair to become healthy and shiny again. This is not something that you would need to do continuously but once it is done you can keep your hair balanced by using quality products.

If you want the products to work at their optimum best you should ideally allow the time indicated on the directions so that it has the time it needs to penetrate the hair and do its magic. Jacob believes that through correct use of quality shampoos, conditioners and treatments you can revive your hair to its very best.

This does not mean using it more than you should either. If you have normal hair, even washing it once a week is fine; for coloured hair twice a week; for dry and damaged hair, three times a week.

Jacob’s favourite brands:

•    AVEDA

Purchasing Quality Products

According to Jacob, these are the best brands offering quality and reliability. Unfortunately the best versions of any of these products are not available to the general public.

These products come in various degrees of good. The options available to us at the supermarket have the lowest quality of these good brands. The second, intermediate level is when we purchase our hair care products from our hairdresser’s salon.

Here we have a slightly more expensive product that does a much deeper job on your hair.

Then you have the top level of these brands, this is the professional product. This is what the hairdressing salons use. They are not usually available for retail sale as they are sold to hairdressing operators within the industry.

It is a bit sad that even if you are prepared to pay for the best it is not available to us but the good news is that when we do get to use it, it is within the hands of the professionals who know how to use it best and gain maximum results.


Introducing Jacob Myung

In our Health and Beauty department we intend to find the most accurate information on maintaining a healthy life, both externally and internally. Our first expert in this area is our haircare expert Jacob.

Demonstration in front of 3,000 people

Jacob is a hairdresser who has passion for his work. In fact, I see him more as an artist than a hairdresser. His passion for his art has taken him to superstardom in Japan where he has performed many hair demonstrations in front of large crowds of more than 3,000 people at a time.

He has won multiple awards there and with one particular award he also received a very special gift, a unique pair of double-scissors that I have seen him demonstrate his extraordinary skills with. He is like a real-life Edward Scissor-hands.
Jacob, originally from South Korea initially trained in his home country then went on to improve his skills and knowledge in the UK and in Japan. He also had a very successful business of his own, employing 15 staff members back in his homeland.

Jacob explained that when a person asked for his opinion on a style he would first listen to the client to ascertain what they really want, he assesses their face shape, skin and skin colour; then he takes into consideration other aspects such as  age, character and anything else that he may feels are useful in making valid suggestions.
During our interview I saw that hairdressing was more than a job to Jacob and that he had a genuine concern for the needs of his clientele. With his skills and knowledge Jacob has trained many hairdressers where he had once been a trainee himself. He feels confident in his ability to train others in the art of hairdressing and aims to one day set up his own hairdressing institute here in Australia.

Right now, we are lucky to have Jacob available to us on our blog where we can benefit from his incredible expertise.