The Hive comes to Kew Gardens

The Hive, the centrepiece of the gold-medal winning UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, is to take pride of place in Kew Gardens from June.

The Hive at the Milan Expo. Image: Mark Hadden for Wolfgang Buttress
The Hive at the Milan Expo. Image: Mark Hadden for Wolfgang Buttress

Soaring 17 metres in the air, the aluminium structure designed by Wolfgang Buttress is an immersive, multi-sensory experience inspired by UK scientific research into the health of bees.

It will draw visitors into the space via a wildflower meadow, mimicking the journey of worker bees returning to the hive. The meadow will serve to build understanding and appreciation of these habitats, and their significance for insect pollinators.

Hundreds of glowing LED lights bring the 40 tonne lattice structure to life, while orchestral sound fills the air with an undercurrent of buzzes and pulses. Triggered by vibration sensors within a real beehive, the sound and light intensity within the pavilion increases as the energy levels in the living hive surge, giving visitors aninsight into the life of a bee colony.

Within the structure visitors learn about the role of bees and other pollinators in feeding the planet.

Crucial links between food security and pollinators are explained, with Kew scientists sharing 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 from the Native Seed Hub.

Richard Deverell, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said: "We are truly delighted to announce The Hive's move to Kew, both for its magnificent aesthetic appeal and for the resonance it has with our work – I can think of no better home for this remarkable marriage of architecture and science.

"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."

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Lords Defra spokesman, said: "Pollinators like bees and other insects are integral to our natural environment, and play a vital role in our food industry. The Hive is an extraordinary structure, which symbolises how the UK champions the protection of bees and nature. I am delighted to see it make a return to the UK at Kew, where it will continue to amaze the public and raise awareness of how vital pollination is."

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