Kew Gardens has a stunning new structure on site this summer. It measures 17 metres in height and 40 tonnes in weight, but its significant stature is not simply based on its impressive size. The beautiful, intricate design is based on the bee hive, and it is here to help us better understand the importance that bees carry for our planet.
This Hive provides its visitors with a complete and highly enjoyable bee-related sound and visual experience. Not far from this aluminium version, there’s a real bee hive which has been fitted with vibration sensors that react to the hustle and bustle of the resident bees. This activity is fed through to the Hive structure and replicated as flashes from its 1,000 LED lights, plus bee “music”, a concert of humming bees with accompanying musicians.
The structure was created by Nottingham-based sculptor, Wolfgang Buttress, initially for the UK pavilion at Milan Expo in 2015. Its 170,000 individual pieces have now been reconstituted at Kew, and will be on display until November 2017.
Built on a small mound it is impossible to miss and once you go up inside, it’s impossible to know whether to look up at the intricate structure above, with its a tantalising glimpse of the sky, or down at your feet where the hexagonal cell structure is clearly visible.
Bees are an important pollinator for us humans, and for the planet as a whole. Their numbers are declining and they need our help to survive.
Today is Don’t Step on a Bee Day, so it’s a good time to learn more about this fascinating flying insect, and take a step to give them a little bit of extra help. This can be as simple as not cutting your lawn! Or maybe add something to your garden or window box that will give them a boost – lavender, ox-eye daisies, borage and ivy are just some of the beneficial plants.
The Kew Hive is thoroughly enjoyable and educational at the same time. Weather permitting, it is open the same hours as the rest of the gardens and no additional ticket is required. There is a number of associated events to provide extra information, including a pollination trail around the Gardens and talks about bee keeping and bee-related projects.
You can book tickets online to avoid the queues on a busy day. Entrance to the gardens costs £15 per adult; £34 for a 2 adult, 2 child family.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 10 July 2016
Part of My Sunday Photo