Kew Gardens in London is home to a multi-sensory architectural installation known as The Hive, which transforms the life inside a beehive into a sound and light show for visitors to enjoy.
The activity of the bees – who communicate through vibrations – is monitored inside a real hive, also situated at Kew, by a vibration sensor known as an accelerometer. These vibrations are sent in real time to the man-made Hive which is located in the middle of a wildflower meadow at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The structure contains more than 1000 led lights which are powered on and off in seemingly random patterns by the real life vibrational activity of the bees inside the real hive.
The soundscape at The Hive is composed of bee sounds and sounds from a pre-recorded library. Signals from the real beehive trigger noise gates at particular thresholds, activating the sounds.
The 17-metre, 40 ton structure, made up of 170,000 steel and aluminium parts, is a collaboration between artist Wolfgang Buttress and designer and engineer Tristan Simmonds.
The multi award-winning experience was inspired by scientific research into the health of honeybees. It is a visual symbol of the pollinators’ role in feeding the planet and the challenges facing bees today.
The installation arrived at Kew Gardens after a spectacular run as the centrepiece of the gold medal winning UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo UK Trade and Investment.
Interested in visiting Kew Gardens? Check out our Slow TV episode Kew Gardens: Flora from around the world.