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What is it about beekeeping that draws us in? Why do so many of us wonder from afar for years, but eventually find ourselves installing our first hive?
What concerns do we have before we start down the path towards becoming a beekeeper and what holds us back? And when we do answer the call, what challenges face us as we install our first bees...and beyond?
This column is the story of one man - Keith Stiles - as he considers beekeeping and eventually makes the decision to jump into this wonderful hobby.
Keith documents his concerns and excitement as he investigates beekeeping initially and then his decision-making as he purchases his equipment, tools, protecting clothing - and his bees.
Then we share in Keith's progress as he starts out learning about bees.
This column is largely for the benefit of fellow new beekeepers.
There is, of course, a huge amount of information about beekeeping available on the Internet, books and other outlets.
And while PerfectBee strongly recommends that new beekeepers find a mentor and perhaps join a beekeeping club, there's also an educational and fascinating element to looking over the metaphorical shoulder of someone else, going through the same challenges and with the same concerns.
So this column is largely about empathy - following another beekeeper, like you, just starting out, with bright hopes and high ambitions for his beekeeping exploits.
Keith Stiles is a native of North Carolina who travels the country working with colleges and universities implementing event scheduling software.
When he's not on the computer and working with his clients, you will find him either in his flower gardens, singing with the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and the Haywood County Community chorus, beekeeping or practicing and playing the organ.
Growing up in the country, he was exposed to all kinds of livestock including his grandfather's pet bull, Patrick. Keith has two fur babies, two cats named Aragorn and Arwen. Yes, he is a Tolkien fan.
Keith holds both an MBA and an MA in English Literature. His Master's thesis was written on tales in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that had elements of what would have been known as "medieval magic". Not only a music lover, he also is a voracious reader and is never anywhere without a book nearby.