A magnificent aluminum structure featuring a rotational twist suggestive of a swarm of bees will be drawing visitors to the attraction when it opens in June 2016. Known as The Hive, it has been inspired by groundbreaking UK scientific research into the health of bees.
It was created by Wolfgang Buttress and promises to be an immersive, multi-sensory experience when it is unveiled within the stunning landscape of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Soaring 17-metres in the air, it was originally designed as the centerpiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo.
Visitors will be drawn into The Hive via a wildflower meadow, as though they are worker bees returning to the hive. The meadow will help build an understanding and appreciation of these habitats, their significance for insect pollinators and the importance of pollination in our food chain.
Hundreds of glowing LED lights bring this 40-tonne lattice structure to life, while a symphony of orchestral sounds fill the air with an atmospheric undercurrent of buzzes and pulses. Visitors will be fascinated to learn that the sound and light intensity within the pavilion increases to correspond with the rise in energy levels in a real life hive, giving them an insight into the ever-moving life of a bee colony.
Wandering through this continually changing space, visitors will begin a journey, exploring the vital role of bees and other pollinators in feeding the planet – out of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of food worldwide, 70 are pollinated by bees. Crucial links between food security and pollinators will come alive, as Kew scientists share their solutions for pollinators under pressure, from their innovative research into the plant chemicals in pollen and nectar that enable bees to overcome disease, to the development of high quality wildflower seeds by Kew’s UK Native Seed Hub.
Richard Deverell, Director at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew says: “The Hive creates a powerful, immersive space for us to explore the urgent issues we face in relation to pollinators, their intimate relationships with plants and their vital role in helping us feed a rapidly growing population. To be able to bring those stories alive here at Kew – a centre of scientific knowledge and expertise and one of the planet’s most biodiverse city landscapes – is a true honour.”
Dr Martin Bencsik, Physicist and Bee Expert at Nottingham Trent University, says: "I feel truly privileged to have contributed to The Hive project, where Wolfgang's design has created an amazing space for visitor reflection. Wolfgang has given us an extraordinary opportunity to include recent scientific research within his work, and how very fitting for it to now come to Kew Gardens.”
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Kew Gardens offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in centuries of science, horticulture and history. It boasts acres of beautiful landscaped grounds featuring plant specimens from around the world and has a gallery of botanical art. Groups and coaches are welcomed, with discounts for groups of 15 or more. Guided tours and catering options are available. For more information visit www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/plan/groups.