WINnovation 2017: Alice Hinman

Alice Hinman
Founder, Apiopolis

Alice Hinman is founder of the nonprofit urban bee sanctuary Apiopolis, taking care of as many as 6 million bees in 60 colonies all over Raleigh. The pollinators play a vital role in sustaining our local ecosystem, and Hinman’s working to make sure they have the environment they need to thrive.

She’s doing that through Apiopolis’s day-to-day work, and by acting as an advocate, pushing to have Raleigh certified by the official “Bee City USA” program. Cities and towns who are certified commit to creating and sustaining pollinator habitats, raise awareness of the need for pollinators, and carefully manage pesticides.

When the Capital Boulevard entrance to downtown is rebuilt, for instance, Hinman will lobby for the planting of “a functioning, beneficial landscape” surrounding it.

Most people do not think of urban settings when they think of bees or ecosystems. Hinman says the city offers its challenges, but it also has benefits. Bees in cities actually can fare better than those in rural areas, she says, because cities have diverse nectar sources like potted plants and colorful flowers, while agricultural areas that are cultivated with only a few crops may leave bees struggling for nectar.

Working with bees in the city is “quite different from their idyllic rural environment,” she says, “but I think we can affect positive change wherever we are.”

With eight hives in her own yard in northeast Raleigh, Hinman also has a community of neighbors who appreciate her work and have embraced her use of an empty lot to keep even more colonies nearby. And she works as a beekeeper for hire, tending to bees beyond her own, and beyond Apiopolis’ downtown fleet.

Hinman’s passion and her work are one, something she feels immensely grateful for. At WINnovation, Hinman says she’ll talk about “what led up to this, how my childhood, my background, has informed this, how different points in my life have become integral. Everything, if you let it, is a learning experience.”