Written by Derek Halsey | Photos by Anthony Harden
James Wilkes is saving the world one bee population at a time through entrepreneurship and technology.
This seems to be a day and age of causes, with many people focusing on niche ideas to fight for and support. In the case of Dr. James Wilkes, he has combined childhood interests with a stellar academic career, digital innovation, and even the use of crypto-currency to further a cause that might just save the world: protecting the beehives of the planet Earth.
When it comes to the decline of the bee population in recent years, the implications are staggering should the species face any kind of holistic demise. If plant life is not pollinated sufficiently and crops do not get to grow as they need to, life on this water-covered orbiting rock is in for a drastic change.
Wilkes is not only dealing with this issue by advocating for the cause and furthering education about these intriguing flying insects that have been around for 100 million years; he is using new technologies and entrepreneurship to make a difference.
Wilkes is a professor in the department of computer sciences at Appalachian State University, located in Boone, North Carolina. At his mountaintop acreage located in nearby Ashe County, Wilkes is also a farmer and a beekeeper who cultivates over 150 hives on his land with his family. And relatedly, he is the CEO and co-founder of the Blowing Rock Software Company and its main creation, HiveTracks.com. The app and website are, in his words, “a hive management software system for beekeepers.”
When Capital at Play visited Wilkes, he was fresh off of a trip to Rome, Italy, where he attended a conference on the plight of the bee at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Though one would think jet lag might be in play, Wilkes is energetic, focused, and open to conversation about all that is going on in his life. As we enjoy a cup of excellent small batch java at Hatchet Coffee Roasters in Boone, we discuss his Italian adventure and the ever-changing aspects of his life.
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