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NC Furniture Makers Redesign Hives To Suit The Bees’ Needs

Hinman setting up the bee hive.
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.


Grant Holub-Moorman coordinates events and North Carolina outreach for WUNC, including a monthly trivia night. He is a founding member of Embodied and a former producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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