The Giant Immersive BeeHive at Kew


This Summer you might want to head to the Kew Gardens to visit the’Hive’, the new installations from the UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress, originally created for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and now residing temporarily in London.

If you are indeed planning to go there for a proper bee-themed treat or are just curious to know more about it, here’s some useful info.

The Hive is an immersive sound and visual experience, it’s 17 meters tall and constructed from 170.000 aluminum parts and with 1000 LED lights. The intensity of sound and light is controlled by the vibrations of bees in an actual hive at Kew that is wired to the sculpture. The artist says:

“I want visitors to feel enveloped, wrapped-up and involved in the experience, rather than adopting the position of an external observer.”

There are two entrances of the Hive: one at the bottom where you can learn about honeybees while for example biting sticks that are inserted into a conductor to sense the vibrations when upstairs the stage is actually wired up and controlled by the activity of the bees. So I suggest to just simply sitting there and observe the surrounding ‘activity’.

But how does it work? 

Honeybees communicate with each other primarily through vibrations, therefore, the artist put an accelerometer in a beehive at Kew which is connected to the installation. But what is an accelerometer? Accelerometers are basically vibration sensors. This accelerometer picks up vibrations from activity of the bees and these vibrations are sent in real-time to The Hive.


BeeHive at Kew. Photo By Roman In London


BeeHive at Kew/ Photo By Roman In London

 The importance of bees

Photo by Roman In London


This artwork also serves the scope to highlight the importance of honeybees: HoneyBees pollinate 70 of the most important crop we eat, including fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seeds.

Pollination is the transfer of the pollen grain from the stamen (the male part of the flower) to the stigma and egg (the female part of the flower). It is through pollination that plants are fertilized and able to produce the next generation of plants, including the fruit and crops we eat.

 Buttress also says:
“I opened a bee hive for the first time two years ago and it gave me a different outlook on life and how humans are connected to nature. We are in danger of losing that vitally important connection, especially in cities.”

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