What We’re Reading: Orren Fox’s The Secret To Happy Honey Bees
Orren was one of the first members of ChopChop’s Kid Advisory boards and one of our first Healthy Heroes. It’s been a while since we caught up with Orren and we’re excited to hear he’s up to some really cool things-like writing a book! We talked to Orren about his passions-chickens and bees-and his new book.
Name: Orren Fox
Hometown: Newburyport, MA
ChopChop: How did you get started beekeeping?
Orren: In sixth grade, one of my friends brought honey from his hives into school every few weeks. After tasting a spoonful, I bought a jar and began to think “If he can keep bees and produce this delicious honey, why can’t I?”
ChopChop: How did you get inspired to write a book?
Orren: Beekeeping has been a passion of mine for many years, meaning that talking about bees whether in conversation or in writing, is very easy for me. For years, I kept a blog which began focused on chickens and later transitioned to both chickens and bees. Furthermore, during my learning about bees, I read many amazing books which give detailed descriptions of how to keep bees. In other words, the world already possesses many books which tell you HOW to keep bees. Knowing this, I wrote a book to not only provide a basic understanding of how to keep bees but more importantly, WHY you should keep bees.
ChopChop: Tell us about your new book.
Orren: After speaking at the Do Lectures in Hopland, California at the beginning of my sophomore year, the Do Book Company approached me, asking if I had any interest in writing a book about the subject of my talk, beekeeping. I wrote the book during the winter of my junior year and into the summer before my senior year. In short, the main goal of Do Beekeeping is to inspire people to keep bees through exposure to my experiences. In general, authors of books about beekeeping are not teenage boys, meaning that my voice in the book is unique and unlike anything else you can find in bookstores.
ChopChop: You also work with chickens, can you tell us about that?
Orren: For my chickens, there was never one defined moment such as the one which got me interested in bees. As I developed an interest in keeping chickens, I tried to get my hands on any materials I could to learn about keeping chickens. I bought my first dozen birds in fifth grade and have never looked back.
ChopChop: How did you get involved with ChopChop?
Orren: For the first issue of ChopChop, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by fellow chicken keeper Susan Orlean. In a later issue, I was able to interview cookbook author Mollie Katzen, which was especially great considering I had used the Moosewood Cookbook many times to cook delicious meals.
ChopChop: What do you like to cook?
Orren: I really enjoy cooking practically any food. During the summer, I grill as much as possible and during the colder months, I occasionally bake bread when I’m feeling particularly hungry and ambitious. Of course, I cook breakfast often because cooking breakfast is straightforward, simple and delicious.
ChopChop: Do you make honey? What’s the process like and what kind do you make?
Orren: I’ve harvested honey from our school hives as well as from my hives here at home. The extraction process is sticky, but very entertaining. Unfortunately honey gets on absolutely everything within a mile of the honey. All of the honey which I have taken part in harvesting has been wildflower honey, collected from various different flowers surrounding the hives. The flavors in wildflower honey vary greatly from Newburyport to Ojai, California, however, both remain two of my favorite honeys. For example, one main difference is the orange blossoms which are available to the bees out in California but not here on the East Coast. Each different type of flower provides the honey with a different taste, scent and color and when you have many types of flowers blended together, the result is delicious.
ChopChop: What advice do you have for kids that are interested in learning about beekeeping?
Orren: Be patient. Take your time learning about bees in order to ensure that you want to own bees enough that you will care for them in the heat of the summer and in the cold of winter. Sometimes you won’t want to care for your bees for a variety of reasons, but if you own hives, it is the responsibility of the beekeeper to care for his/her bees in this case, that beekeeper is you. They are incredible animals and this is the reason why I have never heard of a beekeeper buying hives and eventually saying “These things are boring, why did I ever get them?” That never really happens.
ChopChop: Can you share some cool facts about bees and chickens with us?
Orren: All worker bees in a hive are females. Queen bees lay about 2,000 eggs every day. The largest breed of chicken in the world, the Jersey Giant can weight up to 15 pounds! The record-setting egg laying chicken laid more than an egg every day.
Learn more about Orren:
Orren’s Blog: http://www.happychickenslayhealthyeggs.blogspot.com
Orren’s Do Beekeeping Video:: https://vimeo.com/126381906