Olivia Wylie's white butcher's apron, smattered with golden dribble, is cleaner than her hands.
Bees dance to radio rap by an open window and a fan on high, pushes the sweet smell through the room.
Wylie scrapes honey from uncapped frames and softens her hands in liquid sugar.
The Tauranga Girls' College leaver is boosting her bank account while extracting white Kamahi honey and loving every second of it.
Tauranga teenagers have pleasantly surprised Bay of Plenty Times Weekend by showing they are happy to forgo seven weeks of summer holidays for financial gain.
After being encouraged by her parents to find work, 18-year-old Wylie, nabbed the Lower Kaimais job through Student Job Search and is working eight-hour days or more, in the lead-up to starting a Bachelor of Science majoring in computing, at Waikato University.
Among green, pink, brown, blue and yellow open pellets, caked with honeycomb, she swipes away a curious bee.
``It's a wicked opportunity to get some money behind me before going to university ... You can't really live on nothing.
``My first pay was epic,'' she says, a big grin. Despite being stung three times since January 4, she is happy to work everyday instead of sleeping in. WITH a curved line of sunblock across the bridge of his nose and an island tan, 16-year-old Jackson Edwards, squishes warm sand between black jandals.
Eyes hidden behind Dragon sunglasses, he looks like he could be on holiday, but the unmistakable colour combination of his shorts and T-shirt, shows he's not. The Mount Maunganui College student is making money at the beach, and loving every second of it.
Edwards, a paid lifeguard, is patrolling Mount main beach _ the mecca of the summer teen. Nearby the surfclub, a line of girls in florescent bikinis are flicking through Cosmopolitan and eating chips. Several hundred meters away, Edwards, having his photo taken, won't let go of his walkie-talkie.
``Just if there's a rescue down the beach and they need one more,'' he says, gallantly.
Deciding to give up his holiday was easy, he reckons.
He knows where his future is heading and that includes a business management degree at Waikato University. ``I have a large portion of my wages going towards my uni costs, just to reduce that student loan and help out the parents a bit. ``A group of my mates, we feel that it's needed at our age and where we are in schooling now, to start raising money for uni.''
He works eight-hour days, Monday to Friday, and has sacrificed social time _ skipping a trip to the family bach in Te Kaha, and spending less time with 17-year-old girlfriend Ashley, a lifeguard at Omanu.
``I miss hanging out with my girlfriend quite a bit. She works at Omanu so it's not like she can come down and visit me or anything. I miss being with the family when they go away on holiday.''
It isn't all bad though.
``I feel that even though, we call it `working' here, I'd be at the beach every single day if I wasn't working ... it doesn't really feel like work,'' he says.
And there are perks.
``I like to treat myself to some clothes every now and then but being on the beach you don't really need clothes, you just bowl around in your Speedos,'' he says.
Already this summer, Edwards has made some dramatic and impressive rescues, including being one of four lifeguards who tended to a boat racing competitor who had his stomach torn open by an anchor in a freak accident, leaving the victim with up to 1m of intestines spilling from his abdomen.
On the same day, Edwards found a missing child, much to the relief of her panicked father.
``Each day, even if I haven't saved anyone I feel that sense of achievement,'' Edwards says.
For some that aren't working, just the thought of it is hard work.
Down on the boardwalk at Mount main beach, four bare-footed 14-year-olds with salt-licked hair, screw their nose up at the idea of being anywhere but at the beach.
Jayden, with a reggae-coloured hair braid, reckons she could possibly work these holidays _ if it wasn't everyday.
Courtney deplores she wouldn't want to work for ``four bucks'' an hour.
The others say it's just too hard when you're 14. Summer jobs aren't plentiful and age restricts them in what they can do.
Instead, for many, endless days of summer are spent frolicking among sand dunes. Home with with no job, zero responsibility beyond tidying your room and one big social calender.
The sun is shining on Friday when Emma Baylis arrives at work in black.
``Do you want a single or a double,'' she yells over shoulder.
``A double,'' a guy about the same age, answers.
With gloved fingers she pulls apart white breakfast muffins and lines them side-by-side on a tray before pushing them into a horizontal toaster and begins the process again.
The whirr of airconditioning is blended with humming machines and the frantic babble of employees' voices as they move from one work-station to the next _ cracking eggs, topping up bacon trays, and shooting wrapped and ready-to-go burgers across a silver bench.
Baylis, 18, would rather be here than the beach _ even if the the McDonald's top grill is a scorching 218C and the bottom grill, 177C.
Having worked part-time since she was 15, the Tauranga Girls' College school leaver has saved $10,000, which will pay for her first year's stay in Auckland University's halls of residence. Having put the money in a term-deposit she's additionally earned $3000 in interest.
``It's not just that I want the money but working gives me the skills that I'm going to need for uni. ``I can be on the beach, I get a few days off, but if I did that all the time it'd get a bit boring,'' she says. Most of her friends have jobs, including twin sister Fay who works at KFC. ``I think a lot of people struggle with the balance of saving and spending,'' she muses. ``A lot of (students) just don't have jobs. I think it's really important for teenagers to have jobs.
``I feel that most teenagers look at McDonald's and go `oh it's just McDonalds, I'd never work there'. If you don't apply you're not going to get a job. We're serving elderly people, children. You do learn skills that you need. A lot of teenagers don't really know how to present themselves or communicate for that matter. Internet, cellphones, no one really talks anymore.''
Tauranga author Sylvia Bowden, says it's good for students to slog it out over the holidays as a dose of reality in the workforce gives them an idea of what the real world is going to be like.
``It's much better to be doing that than out doing things they shouldn't be. Work keeps them occupied.''
While at university or secondary school she believes is best to restrict working hours so youngsters aren't burning the candle at both ends.
Australian research by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research has found a ``pronounced'' negative impact on school performance on teenagers who spend more than 15 hours a week in paid work outside of holiday time.
Bowden, who wrote The New Zealand Household Budget Kit, is in the process of writing her second book, called How to Stop Your Kids Sending You Broke.
She says every teen needs a plan with what to do with their money. Teens need their parents to show them how to manage money. It's inevitable kids will one day move out of home and the move is harder for children ``spoon fed''. It takes dedication to pull yourself away from your mates pitching a tent and eating fish and chips on the beach.
Supermarket worker Nazanin Rafati, 17, has to bite her tongue when customers look at her sympathetically.
``They say `it's a beautiful day out there,' and you're like `thanks, thanks for that','' she says, in good humour.
The Otumoetai College leaver says it would be nice to sleep until 11am each day but the sound of a jiggling wallet is too much to resist.
She is saving for emergencies and ``social purposes'' to top-up the $160 living allowance she will get at university next year.
Twenty-one-year-old Petine White started working at Brookfield New World, which employs 120 secondary and tertiary students with a 12-strong casual student pool, when she was at Otumoetai College. Now at AUT in Auckland, she works here fulltime in the holidays.
The girls say they can't rely on their parents forever and know they also can't rely solely on their student loans.
Are customers impressed they're giving up their well-earned holidays?
``I guess so. I hope so,'' White says.
Tauranga employer John Warder, started working at McDonald's at the age of 17, and now owns five McDonald's restaurants.
The Tauranga man who super-sized his career by starting young, says McDonald's hires a lot of teens looking for their first job.
Teens are eager but there can be challenges in teaching them a work ethic, with many quick to expect time off when they choose. His branches do not hire extra staff over summer, instead offering increased hours for their part-timers, who make up about 40 per cent of Warder's total 350 staff.
Teenagers are now entitled to be paid the same rate as adults (the current minimum wage for everybody is $13 an hour) and the behaviour has to match, Warder says.
``Times have changed and priorities have changed. They certainly live for now is the feeling I get from them. It's just them and there's no long term thought.''
Those who were working to save to go to university are few and far between, he says. ``And we snap them up if we can find them.''
Like many school kids, Ben Wassink's dad thought he needed a job.
``Three years ago dad told me to get out of the house and find some part-time work,'' the 17-year-old, says.
Having completed Year 13 at Katikati College, Wassink, who lives on a deer farm, is taking a gap year in 2012 to think about where his future lies. Having moved to New Zealand from Holland at age 11, he plans to return to his home country and work out what he might do.
``I need quite a bit of money before I start uni and it makes it easier financially.''
He is working fulltime at Copperfield Nurseries in Te Puna doing tying, which is part of the budding process on a citrus farm. It's hard on the back and the sun is scorching but he's enjoying it.
Principal of Tauranga's largest high school Otumoetai College, Dave Randell, says it's difficult for many teens to find fulltime work during the holidays and that's a reality check for some.
In the last couple of years, teens approaching the leaving age for high school have taken on a more focused approach to their future.
From Year 12, principals drum into students that university will cost more than what they get from the Government in the way of a student allowance ($160). Halls of residence cost around $300 per week, and then there's sport, travel, and socialising costs.
More and more students are taking a gap year because they can't afford tertiary study and not all parents have money to help. Twenty-seven per cent of Otumoetai school leavers now study in Tauranga to save on expenses, he says.
``Money just doesn't grow on trees. They go home, soap and toilet paper is paid for and all of a sudden, they're realising `we've got to pay for that now.' They they are less reluctant to solely rely on their student loan.''
Standing on the precipice of adult life, sacrificing a long hot summer of freedom is certainly worth it when money calls.