Originally built as the British Pavilion for the World Expo in Milan in 2015, the crucial message that the piece conveys about the plight of the honeybee and the vital role that bees play in pollinating the world’s crop species, was too strong a message for The Hive not to have a life past the Expo. And so it was brought to Kew Gardens.
The 17 metre (55 feet) high installation is made up of 170,000 pieces of aluminium and is connected to a real beehive in a non-public area of the Gardens. Microchips inside the beehive called accelerometers detect the bees’ movement, which along with pheromones, they use as a form of communication. In turn the accelerometer activates a light and soundscape in The Hive itself. A thousand LED lights flicker while a specially devised symphony provides the, at times, visceral soundtrack to visitors’ experience. The greater the movement in The Hive, the more frenetic the light and soundscapes become.
Within Kew, The Hive is surrounded by a newly planted, wildflower meadow to imitate the journey of the bees returning home. Its presence has also prompted further research into the bee population and why their numbers appear to be decreasing worldwide.**Video: The Hive at Kew Gardens - © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew**