A woman posing alongside wild flowers.

Community Engagement|

College of Arts and Science

icon of a calendarNovember, 17, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Laura Phillips

Bee-lieving in Change

OU alumna makes an impact in Metro Detroit with urban beekeeping

two white arrows point down
white camera icon

Garrett MacLean

It began with a common cold. But Nicole Lindsey, CAS ’14, says it was really a desperate need that drove her to create Detroit Hives.

The urban beekeeping venture run by Lindsey and her partner, Timothy Paule, started when Paule unsuccessfully battled a cold. He ultimately found a remedy when he turned to local, raw honey. The couple was amazed and began to research local honey, uncovering not only incredible healing powers, but also a way to leverage this to empower communities.

“After learning about the importance of consuming local raw honey, there arose a need to provide a service,” Lindsey says. “By transforming vacant lots into educational apiaries and pollinator-friendly spaces, we now can reimagine our communities to help eliminate blight, food insecurity and crime.”

The couple learned the craft of beekeeping and bought their first lot in 2017. Today, they manage 45 beehives in Detroit, and have expanded to Kansas City, Missouri as MO Hives KC.

A woman posing in front of painted beehives.
A painting of a man on a beehive
A bee on a flower
Two people working on a beehive

“This work allows me to serve as a leader in my community,” says Lindsey. “As women-of-color, it's imperative that we change the narrative and be an example to the next generation. We service the Metro Detroit community, and with target-populations over 80 percent Black, it’s imperative that change comes from someone who they can identify with.”

Leveraging health, social empowerment and environmental sustainability, Detroit Hives is Lindsey’s way to impact Detroit. But this impact has resonated beyond the city borders. “It wasn't until our story went viral through social media, that we realized the impact that we had internationally,” she said. In 2019, Detroit Hives grabbed the attention of National Geographic’s Short Film Showcase, putting the organization on a global platform. But Lindsey reminds others that beekeeping is more than a fad. “This ‘trend’ can also be credited to the need for food security in local communities, and people wanting to grow their own food.”

Lindsey and Paule are currently working to make National Urban Beekeeping Day, a day founded by Detroit Hives, a global initiative. They hope to build an educational center to teach local students about bee conservation and want to expand to provide jobs to the community.

It was an unintended journey, but an unmatched destination. “What started as an idea has led me to a life full of passion and purpose,” Lindsey says.

Learn more about Oakland University alumni.

Share this story