BEHOLD THE HIVE
Once in a blue moon something so stunning graces your screen that it stops you in your tracks and slows down your entire day. Recognize that?
The Hive, an immersive sound and visual experience created bysculptor Wolfgang Buttress, is what took our breath away today. The lights you see and the sounds you hear inside are triggered by bee activity in a real beehive at Kew Garden, about 30 minutes outside central London.
The metal honeycomb structure is literally alive and buzzing with light-, sound- and vibration-emitted by the activity of bees in an actual beehive on the surrounding meadows. Constructed from 70,000 pieces of aluminum formed into a 17meter tall structure resembling a swarm of bees, The Hive was originally created as the centerpiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo. Today visitors reach the Hive by walking through a one-acre wildflower meadow busy with pollen gathering bees. Once inside the structure, the intensity of the lights and the beehive-type sounds change with the energy levels in the real beehive, giving a sense of what life might be like inside an actual hive. The Hive was inspired by scientific research into the health of honeybees and their vital role as pollinators. And visitors say it's especially magnificent by night.
Now let’s take a look at just how this installation ticks all our Sensory Fetishism boxes: The multi award-winning Hive was inspired by scientific research into the health of honeybees. Vibration-sensors placed inside the beehive pick up the activity from the bees and send it to The Hive in real-time. Those signals are then translated to the 1,000 LED lights, growing brighter or dimmer in response to the bee's activity. In addition, a musical soundscape from 40,000 bees and human voices accompany the modulating lights. But wait, there’s vibrations too! Bone conductors installed under The Hive convert sound into vibrations so if a visitor bites on a wooden stick connected to the conductor, vibrations travel directly to bones in their skull. Now, let’s not forget the Queen bee, who’s commanding quacking signals can be heard as she challenges other queens for hive leader. This is just one element of the communication between bees that visitors get to experience, thanks to newly discovered insights by physicist Martin Bencsik at Nottingham Trent University.
If you’re near London on a not so rainy day – do yourself a favor and visit this multisensory symbol of the pollinators’ role in feeding the planet and to truly understand why meadows matter.