Aris fell in love with the beehives from his very first lesson. Today, after continuous seminars and countless hours of beekeeping, he has learnt the secrets of the bees which he passes on to an endless stream of pupils. Aris himself has never stopped learning, both in Greece and abroad.
He started out with two beehives and quickly turned them into 200. He multiplies the bees himself. He creates new swarms. He rears queen bees, which is to say, he makes queen bees through the process of natural fertilisation.
For Aris, honey has become a road full of fragrances and flavours; a road on which he travels from springtime to autumn, while his bees produce the honey he so loves. The chestnut and Clematis cirrhosa honey from Tripoli and Doliana; the Vytina fir tree honey; the orange blossom honey from Corinth; the wild cotton honey from the Thessalian plain; the cotton and thyme honey from the Thessalian plain and Trikeri; the thyme honey from Trikeri and the heather honey with sarsaparilla and ivy from Xinovryssi,, Pelion. Sometimes, Aris produces Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) honey from Xinovryssi – this is an extraordinary honey with a bitter taste!
The area covered by a bee has a radius of 4 kilometres. Aris travels for many kilometres until his bees have made their food: honey. He drives across Greece in his 8-tonne truck, his hives packed safely in the back. They’re an unusual group of travellers, but they’re all after the same thing: good quality, pure honey!
In the heart of winter, Aris’s bees are fed a patty made of honey, sugar and fresh orange juice. He makes the food himself and, regarding its ingredients, he says: “I would never give my bees anything I wouldn’t eat myself.” In March, the bees will be on the road again, looking for new food with Aris at the wheel. When the time comes for it to be collected, the honey is placed in glass jars and labeled. It is then ready to go on its way.
How to eat honey
Aris is adamant: Honey should always be eaten on its own; like taking a medicine. It boosts our energy. A great combination is honey and tahini, but of course, there are dozens of different combinations, to fit all tastes. Honey and feta, honey and Gruyere, honey with cinnamon, honey in hot water with a few drops of lemon juice, honey in tepid tea (never piping hot), honey on a rusk…
The myths about the crystallization of honey
The crystallization or granulation of honey depends on the humidity of the plant from which the bee gathers the nectar. As a result, the honey from certain plants may crystallize immediately, while other honeys may take a while to crystallize or never do so. Wild cotton honey crystallizes at once; Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) honey turns white in just a few days; heather honey needs a little time but eventually crystallizes; pine and fir tree honey never crystallize. If your honey crystallizes, then it’s better to eat it as it is. If you can’t eat it as it is, then you should put it in a bain-marie pot (or double boiler). Make sure you maintain a temperature of 28 degrees, or else the honey will get burnt and lose all its nutritional properties.