Hive creates buzz at Kew Gardens

Imagine walking into a thrumming bee hive and being enveloped by the constant buzzing sounds the insects make.

That's the idea behind the 17m-high, 40-tonne installation by British artist Wolfgang Buttress at the Kew Gardens in London.

Built out of aluminium, The Hive was the centrepiece for the British Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015 and has now returned home to be installed at Kew. It opens to the public tomorrow.

The Hive is constructed out of 169,300 aluminium bars joined at spherical nodes to form abstracted, honeycomb-like hexagons that spiral into the sky. It is set among a wildflower meadow where visitors can hear a honeybee chorus beamed direct from a hive and see it transformed into a pulsating light display.

Inside, thousands of flickering LED lights bring this intricate lattice structure to life, while an orchestral arrangement sets the mood.

After discovering that bees hum in the key of C, a complementary symphony of vocals and cello was composed and recorded (and released as an album), to create a calming, meditative soundscape within The Hive, inspired by the deep hum of bees.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'Hive creates buzz at Kew Gardens'. Print Edition | Subscribe