NC Furniture Makers Redesign Hives To Suit The Bees’ Needs

Oct 2, 2019

The new hive design is on display in front of the Raleigh Convention Center.
Credit Courtesy of Alice Hinman.

Last year, Alice Hinman knew there was something wrong with her bee hives. And her honeybee colonies were not the only ones struggling to survive — across the country, colony collapse disorder was wreaking havoc on commercial honey production and agriculture that depends on pollinators.

So the Raleigh beekeeper started thinking about how to renovate the bees’ homes. The redesign was overdue given the boxy, filing cabinet-style hive model used by Hinman and most other beekeepers was patented back in 1851. After some research, Hinman began looking to the natural world for inspiration and studied how wild bee colonies build their hives in hollow trunks. Hinman saw the potential for experimentation and turned to an unusual set of professionals for help: furniture designers and architects. The designers, used to creating for the human form, were delighted by the challenge to consider another creature’s comfort.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Alice Hinman, executive director of Apiopolis, as well as Richard Stephenson, one of the design collaborators and the Ratio Rationalist at Flitch Furniture, about how winter will put their first prototypes to the test.