We all start somewhere...

Keith StilesWhat 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 first 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.

Why this column?

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.

Who is.....Keith Stiles?

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 (usually planting more flowers), singing with the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and the Haywood County Community chorus (for the record he is a baritone), beekeeping (recently), or practicing and playing the organ (he is currently taking organ lessons from a classically trained exceptional organist who has become a very good friend).

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.

His educational background is as varied as his hobbies and interests holding 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.


Queen Cell in Nucleus Colony

A Buckfast Experiment Goes Bust – Aggressive Bees and Honey Supers

Bee season is in full swing in western North Carolina with all the interesting developments that brings.  Local beekeepers have reported swarms, including one my own bee mentor experienced.  Luckily, our regional state bee inspector had been invited to his apiary to check things out and saved the day by collecting the swarm. Since my

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A Growing Apiary

Buckfast bees, more splits and the wonder of VSH bees

As spring settles in here in western North Carolina, there are clear signs of rapid growth in my apiary.  In my last blog post, I noted that the new colony of Buckfast bees was scheduled to arrive and discussed the installation of two new queens.  This week we’ll be learning what a VSH queen provides

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Queen cup

Interesting Developments with Queens and Swarms

Spring weather in western North Carolina can be an ever variable and tricky creature.  Such has been the case with the first couple of weeks of April.  My last inspection came at the end of March and was right before a week long cooldown that kept me out of the apiary and wondering about progress.

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Another View of the Brood Pattern

Spring Approaches and An Apiary Springs Into Life

Many things have happened since my last posts.  You are due lots of updates about what’s happened over the winter months in Beorn’s Apiary.  Winter seemed to last forever and we are still having off-and-on cold snaps here in western North Carolina. During December, the apiary was visited with a pretty significant snowstorm.  And, for

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Hive Inspection

Cooler Weather And The Beekeeper

After weeks of abnormally warm weather, the first signs of cooler weather made their appearance in western North Carolina.  Two mornings provided temperatures in the lower 30s with light, non-killing frosts.  These cooler mornings produced little activity in the apiary. As we moved into late October, the cooler weather finally began to make alterations in

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“A New Beekeeper’s Journal” Column

  We all start somewhere… 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

Read More »

5 thoughts on ““A New Beekeeper’s Journal” Column”

  1. Michael Hough

    When the different components of the bee hive is completed how do you fasten the hive to ensure that the hive will remain in tack as a whole after stacking the components together

  2. Looking forward to hearing more about Keith. Beekeeping is a life long adventure and Keith seems like the kind of guy who is up for it!!

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