Have you ever wondered what the inside of a beehive is like—minus the pesky stings? Through a sculpture, called The Hive, British artist Wolfgang Buttress invites people to find out. The artwork, based on the structure of a beehive, aims to let people experience the secret life of bees.
The Hive, which stands 17 meter (56 foot) tall, is currently on display at Kew Gardens in London, England. It’s built of nearly 170,000 crisscrossing aluminum pieces, arranged to look like a real honeybee hive. The structure is also studded with hundreds of twinkling LED lights.
What’s the Buzz?
The Hive’s glowing dome immerses (surrounds) visitors in the world of a bee. As people walk through the structure, they hear and feel the buzzing produced by the insects at work.
Speakers in The Hive play a soundtrack recorded from a real beehive nearby. An instrument for measuring movement, called an accelerometer, also detects vibrations in the same hive. Based on the bees’ activity, the soundtrack changes to mimic the ups and downs of their hypnotic hum.
The Hive’s LED lights also flicker, imitating the actions of the busy insects. When it’s an energetic day for the bees, the lights become more active.
Bees are important pollinators. As the insects visit flowers to drink nectar, they also pick up tiny grains of pollen. Bees carry the pollen from one plant to another, helping them reproduce.
As pollinators, bees play a vital role in helping farmers produce many of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds people eat. But the insects are under threat from things like habitat loss and pollution. Recently, their numbers have drastically declined.
Buttress constructed The Hive in hopes that visitors will leave inspired to do their part to protect bees and the planet. “I want visitors to feel enveloped, wrapped up, and involved in the experience,” he says. “We are in danger of losing that vitally important connection.”