Experience life as a bee at RGB Kew!

The Hive Kew

Experience life as a bee at RGB Kew!


If you ever ‘needed’ an excuse for a day trip to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, then the latest spectacular installment is quite an excuse; you’re in for a treat!


Take a right from the entrance and walk between the Palm House and the lake, then follow the path towards The Orangery – everything seems as normal. Admire the immaculate borders on your left-hand side and glance over to see that they are perfectly mirrored … WHAM! What is that??? Welcome to The Hive!


Towering before you is the 40-tonne installation by Wolfgang Buttress. The Hive was opened at RGB Kew on the 18th June 2016 following its display at the 2015 Milan Expo.


Tell me about The Hive!

  • It is a 17-metre spiral constructed from 170,000 parts from the ground to look like a honeybee swarm.
  • Move closer and the form changes to that of a working honeybee hive
  • There are two entrances


“It’s like a play area for adults,”

Miranda Janatka, Kew Diploma student


Is it just a gimmick?

Absolutely not! It looks spectacular and a lot of thought has obviously gone into making it aesthetically pleasing, but it is designed to make a point; we need to help the bees. The point is very clearly made. Surrounding The Hive, the Kew Diploma students have created ‘real habitats for real wildlife’ by seeding two different types of meadow. One of the meadows is a ‘rough landscape’ that includes 34 native species of wildflower and grass.


Facts and figures:

  • 1000 lights

The interior of The Hive has been rigged with 1000 LED lights. Sounds great? Prepare to have your mind blown! The Hive is linked to a real beehive. Micro-accelerometers in the real hive send information about the activity of bees and then this vibration information is converted into lighting – the individual LEDs are the real-time movements of individual bees!

  • Music

Not content with custom lighting, music has been composed to be played inside The Hive. Musicians in ‘the know’ have decided that bees hum in the key of C. Step inside The Hive and experience an ambient background that “hums” in real time with the bees, in the key in which they hum. There really has been some crazy amount of research involved in this project!

  • Honey

No, you won’t find any. What you will find inside are ‘Hive Explainers’. They are there to tell you everything you could ever know about bees. RGB Kew is laying on a whole host of workshops, films, talks, and shows by a wide range of experts throughout The Hive’s time in the gardens.


This installment at Kew Gardens is one that you will really not want to miss! Once you have paid your entry to Kew, entry to The Hive is included. Visit Kew’s page about The Hive to find out more. Use #KewHive to keep up-to-date with the sweet goings on of this simply amazing installation.



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