The Hive at Kew Gardens

Things to do, Exhibitions
4 out of 5 stars
(35user reviews)
The Hive at Kew Gardens

Time Out says

Wolfgang Buttress' 17 metre high, 40 tonne installation already wowed audiences in Milan and now it's setting up home in Kew Gardens for the summer. Visitors can stand, lie or sit within the massive lattice structure as thousands of LED lights flicker and an orchestral arrangement plays, triggered by the activity of bees in a nearby hive. The music has been specially composed to mimic a bee's singing voice, namely in the key of C.



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Users say (35)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:23
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I have been twice to The Hive and it never ceases to amaze me. The structure is a wonder and glorious to see by night. The mechanism where you listen all about The Hive via a wooden stick and vibrations is brilliant fun. Going inside The Hive and on its upper level is fun, a bit nerve wracking for us people with slight vertigo! Worth visiting Kew Gardens just for this. The fact that it is set in such decadent surroundings only adds to it’s appeal. The gardens are beautiful and awash with flowers and plants from far and wide. I am looking forward to next visit already : ) 


Perhaps it would be cool to see this at night - I saw it during the day on both occasions I visited the gardens over the summer. Regardless, it's a neat structure, inspired by the intricacies of a hive's geometry. The lights change in real time according to the communications of a bee colony a few hours away, which is really cool. And I liked the posts at the base of the Hive that allow you to interact a bit more and understand how bees communicate. It's worth seeing!


The hive is such an amazing, mesmerising structure it really was the highlight of Kew gardens for me. If it wasn't so busy I could honestly have sat there all day listening to the bee-inspired music and thinking about all the busy worker bees active in the gardens. However, I would not recommend going on a Kew Gardens "late" special. Pretty much the only thing open was the Hive and you weren't able to see the rest of the gardens so even though it was nice to see it lit up in the dark, it wasn't worth the money. Go see it on a normal day along with the rest of the beautiful grounds.


The Hive is a striking structure which stands out in the surrounding natural beauty of Kew Gardens, I personally think it's a marvellous looking sight to behold as it’s been very well thought out to emulate a beehive. There are 3 perspectives to admire this modern art installation – from afar you can see it standing proud, then as you follow the buzzing rhythm to make your way over you can stand beneath it and learn more about bees, the sounds and how it travels through vibrations, then go up and on into the hive itself and WOW! Within The Hive you can hear the soft soothing hum and see the lights that glow reacting to a real beehive, which as well as appreciating the artistic design, made me feel in touch with nature. After taking the obligatory Instagram snaps, it was very easy to just stand there taking it all in for a while whilst a sense of calm came over and you forget about everything else as you become immersed in the atmosphere - it would be a great place for them to hold yoga, meditation or mindfulness classes, particularly at sunset after a busy working day!


The Hive is an incredible installation and it was fantastic to see it lit up at night as part of the Kew Lates sessions. There were also lots of other bee related activities taking place in the orangery and I got some really cool temporary tattoos. The event was great fun and I took some lovely photos - however it loses a star as it would have been nice to have seen a bit more of the gardens - most was closed off.


I couldn't not give this experience 5 star, its such an impressive piece of art full of culture and a true environmental reflective piece.

I attended the lates season so the whole evening was about the bees and the hive. In the orangery at Kew the organisers had laid on activities and entertainment plus the opportunity to purchase food.

I had a temporary bee tattoo, I made my own garden decoration that's a bee! I even tried to do some live drawing.

After partaking in some fun activities we went over to the hive at dusk so it was beautifully all lit up and buzzing with the sounds of bees.

The staff were so helpful and really helped us understand the reason for the structure which was designed as part of a competition and then the sound of the bees comes from a real hive positioned behind the structure.

I fully recommend you visit and get a full experience.


Architectural treat! 

I had not yet made it to Kew Gardens so was excited to see what it would deliver. The Hive was originally designed for the Milan Design Expo in 2015 so being able to have the opportunity see it standing proud again was a real treat. We arrived half an hour before the sun was due to set, so head straight over. Before heading inside The Hive you can walk under it where Kew staff will be delivering lots of interesting facts on bees, their habitat and The Hive. 

Once inside The Hive we sat down, and without realising we were sat there for over an hour! The sun set did help, but watching the structure transform into a glistening, twinkling piece of architecture was way too calming. The sound of bees humming sent you into a relaxed trance. You can also see those walking below you and vice versa, making you feel like you are floating in the air. 

Worth a visit if you can!


I visited the Hive in the middle of the afternoon and it was relatively busy compared to the rest of the park, obviously one of the most popular attractions. The structure is very unique, particularly because you can enter it and feel like an actual bee (it is quite a buzz inside) rather than just observe it from the outside.

I would love to go back during the after hours to see the hive lit up as I'm sure it would add to the experience.


This was the first time I'd been to Kew Gardens and I wasn't too sure to want to expect, but wow, I really enjoyed it. we were so lucky with the weather, the skies were so beautiful. Picture perfect. The Hive was incredibly impressive, at first you think what the heck is that, but the structure is beautiful in its own way and when you sit inside it is captivating, but it does feel like you are in a space ship. Try to go when it is quiet to really enjoy it and it is amazing at night! 


I'm sure everyone has seen the gigantic honeycomb which stands proudly in one of the most beautiful gardens of London.

The Hive at Kew Gardens is an experience that everyone of all ages will appreciate.

It's an immersive discovery of what lies around a real hive of bees. You truly get that essence of being inside a hive.

The sounds you hear and the lights that flicker are triggered by real bees. Their nearby activity is what triggers The Hive in which we stand.

Every line, every detail is crafted and manipulated into delicate pieces of honeycomb. It really mimics the true identity of bees, the life of bees and what they create to survive.

They're hardworking little insects aren't they.

If I'm not mistaken, from what I've learnt from this experience, The Hive is constructed from 170,000 parts of aluminium. It also has 1,000 LED lights installed and took a couple of months to reconstruct. Now that's magnificent.

Children will adore this beautiful moment at Kew and it's such an authentic learning experience for them.

You truly delve inside the astonishing life of these buzzing bees that give us the most purest honey of all time.

Once your inside standing in the middle, you really get a warm sensation. It's truly breathtaking seeing it in person, seeing how this masterpiece is constructed.

Every part is interlocked impeccably and I felt that I was incased strongly within The Hive.

When walking around The Hive, you can also see who's beneath you. You get to learn a bit more about these buzzing beauties.

It's an installation not to be missed.

Take everyone and enjoy this eye-catching, curious, unique Hive inside the wonderful world of Kew.


Love MD.


Such a peaceful and mesmerising structure that is connected with an actual beehive elsewhere in the gardens. Seeing it in two different lights was awesome, it became even more impressive as the sun went down.You can put a wooden stick in your mouth to feel the vibrations of the bees and the noises they make in different circumstances/ I went as part of a late evening that also included beeswax candle making, honey tasting, butterfly and bee ornament making and temporary wildlife/flower tattoos, which was great fun as an after work activity.  


This art installation was the highlight of the gardens for me. To be honest at first sight I wasn't that excited but once I read how it was put together and how it connects to an actual bee hive location nearby in the gardens I was very impressed by all of the effort that went in to this piece.

We decided to return to the Hive when it got dark as the installation features numerous lights so it seemed logical that it would look completely fresh and different once dusk was reached. We were right and I'm so glad we stuck around to experience an evening view. It is even more stunning at night and you'll have to scramble to get a goof position for a pic as it got very busy inside the Hive with people taking selfies and so forth.

Definitely worth a look. If nothing else it is super pretty


An intricate piece of sculpture that serves as an educational piece. The hive at Kew Gardens is simply amazing. This multi sensory experience triggered by the bees In a local hive is fascinating and educational as you get to experience the interesting life of bees.


I went to see The Hive in the evening. It's something extra when you are vising The Kew but not enough on its own. It's a fascinating sculpture made from metal and lights. It's the best from far and when all the different lights are creating a surreal atmosphere. However, with the close look, it's somehow disappointing. All you can see is a metal cage and lots of light bulbs. If you are going to see it, plan carefully to avoid overcrowd otherwise it's pointless as you struggle to take a decent picture. Nice view is from underneath but then, if there are lots of people,all you can see are reflections of people's feet. If there are few of you, leave some of the party underneath of the Hive, and the others go and look through the centre down. Giving 4 stars only for the visually striking construction. 


The winning project for 2016 Landscape Institute Awards for Temporary Installation did not disappoint. As seen from the barrage of photos online, it's instagram ready - perfect for 2016. The translucent quality of the installation allows it to respond dramatically with the weather, providing trigger happy visitors unlimited vantage points for a selfie.

It is welcomed by the landscape around the structure, providing a great additional pit stop in Kew Gardens. The multisensory light and sound experience is reacting in real time to a hive located on the grounds, abstractly representing the activity within a bee colony.

It's slightly disappointing that more information on the bees were not available.


If it looks stunning on Instagram, the structure in real life isn’t as striking. I’d stop by if you were planning to visit the gardens anyway, but would not recommend going there just for it.

The best bit was the interactive section “downstairs”. With educational panels telling us more about the life of bees, it was an interesting part of the visit. The added bonus was an incredible activity where you had to put a wooden stick in your mouth and somehow you’ll be able to hear (through your mouth) a short narrative about the life of bees. Ingenious!


Visiting the Hive in London is a unique chance to see what started out as the UK Pavilion at the World Fair Milan last year ( without having to board a plane!
It's 170,000 aluminium pieces have since been painstakingly taken down and reassembled at Kew Gardens so this is a great opportunity to see it in the beautiful surroundings of Kew, and is included in your gardens ticket.
It's a fascinating sculpture and in the evening you can witness the full effect of flickering lights within the structure relaying via the intensity of light and sound the realtime buzz of a real bee hive located in the gardens, which adds another dimension.
Being that the botanical gardens are well worth visiting anyway, this is a great addition to the gardens. It's a must see for any fan of sculpture, architecture and or engineering, and well worth a look for anyone else!


Finally! This was my 3rd attempt to visit The Hive. Attempt one, it was closed due to extremely dramatic thunder and lightening - no one would want to be near a metal structure during that storm, let alone outside getting a drenching. Attempt 2, on a glorious summer day, for no reason whatsoever, it was closed. Still, it allowed us a delightful afternoon in Kew and a free return. And on that return, last week, on a typically British grey day, we finally got to see the amazing structure.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, to be honest, it was smaller than I had thought it would be, but it was still very impressive. As you first approach it, you see the lovely wild meadows, which is the kind of fauna that bees apparently thrive off. This was even more delightful in comparison to the manicured flower beds, which The Hive overlooks.

In The Hive itself, it's rather fun to watch the light bulbs flash on and off as the local bees go about their business. Though it was a little grey to fully enjoy the effects, it's quite beautiful to see the sky bouncing off the glass panels and the silhouettes of people on the platform above you, which you view when you stand underneath.

Although a very simple installation from the outside, you can see the complexity and genius of the design and engineering close-up. Of course, I've never been inside an actual bee-hive, but for the first time in my life, I left feeling a little more understanding of our furry buzzing friends.

Top tips: Go on a clear day if you can, go early or later or/and mid-week to avoid the crowds, plan this as part of entire day at Kew to make the most of the ticket entry fee and don't wear a short skirt!


My partner and I are architecture lovers and we were very excited to visit The Hive in Kew Garden as we didn't have the chance to see this innovative structure at the World's Fair last year. The structure is very impressive and cleverly build to fit perfectly a natural environment. So we weren't shocked to see a metallic structure in the middle of the park. Unfortunately we haven't been able to experience it properly as the LED system wasn't working that day. It was possible to hear the buzzing resonating through the structure but no light effects. But I hope this attraction will become a permanent one at Kew as I really would like to see it at different time of the day and fully operational. 


Kew is one of my very favourite places in the world! It was one of the few places we went as a family as a child and now I make it there a couple of times a year if I can. This year the attraction of The Hive seduced me into a membership and I have been 3 times in about month. I haven't been able to find out if The Hive is a permanent fixture - i hope so. It is really interesting and striking. My first visit was on a gloriously hot and sunny day, the second on typically British summer's rainy day and the third dry but overcast. Interestingly the day where The Hive showed the most bee action was the overcast but dry day. I've been with adult friends and various ages of children - they all found it interesting and enjoyed it. Its brilliant being able to stand underneath and look up at the people in the centre above you!

On all three visits I discovered new things about The Hive but also about bits of Kew - its such a fascinating and interesting place - with new things to discover all the time. I really wish I lived close enough to pop in every week as it really gives me serenity and joy!

If I wasn't so technologically lazy I'd post lots of our photos! If you haven't been it really is worth a trip! My only bug bear about Kew is they haven't ever decided to provide picnic storage space or more varied food options!


After my first try to go an see the Hive has been ruined by heavy rains. We decided to try it again on a warm (and dry) summer evening (Thanks to Kew for their late opening hours) including a lovely picnic. I can only recommend leaving the Hive to the very last when visiting, as we had the pleasure to see it in different lights.

When we first arrived it really did not fail to impress - it's a amazing structure in the middle of the park and fits in really well. We had a quick walk around, but decided to have our picnic first and wait for the sun to go down - let me tell you: worth every minute. It's even more impressive in twilight and as it gets less busy later on - it's a perfect photo set. Once you enter the Hive it helps you imagining being in a real bee hive, by using your senses.

I could have spent hours there, but unfortunately they close at one point. I have already planned to go back this winter to see it in yet another light...


When we went it wasn't fully operational... the lights for one were not working so it didn't have the full effect.  I could hear a humming noise so I guess the sound was working but we were told upfront it wasn't.  So not sure what the humming/buzzing sound was.  The whole thing is actually pretty impressive even though in the vastness of Kew - it is pretty small and blink and you might miss it if you are not actually looking out for it.  All in all though, I just love Kew Gardens for a day out.  But that is for a different review.


As the center piece of last year's Milano Expo, The Hive does not fail to impress. Carefully placed in the middle of a wild flower meadow - in order to attract some bees, naturally - the iron sculpture is impressive. Get closer, and you'll be invited to experiment different sensations from the inside of a real bee hive, from the hum to LED lights that simulate the movement inside. A magnificent addition to the summer collection of the Kew Gardens, hurry to catch it before it's gone. Make it a day to explore the stunning Kew Gardens, a masterpiece of botany on its own.


I visited the Hive on a beautifully sunny day yesterday. I could go on and on about how stunning Kew Gardens are in general, but as this post is about The Hive, I'll try and stick to that.

Walking up to the Hive is very impressive. Your brain can't quite seem to figure out what's going on, how the metal structure is actually built up by hundreds of carefully constructed layers, how it can look so large and monumental but yet it seems to be floating in thin air.

There are a few different positions from which you can enjoy different views, all giving you a new perspective and impression of the structure. Stand below it, walk into it or check it out from the side - you will always find something new to wonder about. I loved the wild flower meadow around the installation that ties in with its actual purpose - to remind visitors of the importance of bees, flowers and wildlife and what we can do to protect and promote this.

Definitely worth a visit, especially on a sunny day when the sun filters through it like it did yesterday. 


The Hive

My second attempted visit to The Hive at Kew Gardens is on a blisteringly hot summers day - as opposed to the first where the electrically charged skies meant that we were unable to go anywhere near it as thunder and lightning are considered a tad on the dangerous side for a metal structure. So there's my first tip, go in fairly good weather if you can and my second tip is to go at the beginning or end of day to do your best to avoid the crowds. The Hive is an impressive, curious structure from the outside, visible from all sides and protected by wild flower bankings. The silver metal, which in sunlight almost seems to have a rose gold hue, feels imposing but somehow still delicate with slender pieces holding together like a elaborate and arty giant Jenga and accented with glowing, flickering bulbs. If you enter the structure from the bottom you can look up to the people above visible through a Perspex walkway. It you enter the floor above, The Hive is all around you, glowing and buzzing with gentle music and then look up to see the sky above through the skylight and light streaming in through gaps in the structure. From all the Perspex and metal it's a reflective dream with light chaotically bouncing about so makes for wonderful photos with people becoming chic silhouettes against the backdrop. Take a seat on this level or even lie on the floor if you can and it becomes a gallery space with gentle sounds all around it's a meditative space. Enjoy the sensory experience of The Hive.


What a wonderful way to spend a lazy London summery Sunday afternoon.. walking around in Kew Gardens and checking The Hive out. Thankfully there were no thunderstorms this time, because the last time we tried to go, the Hive was closed due to weather conditions. It is an installation illuminated with 1000 LED lights that flicker at the times when the bees' communicate with each other in a real beehive. It gets crowded with visiting families but it is still a great and creative way to grab attention to and appreciate the bees and how important they are to the nature and human lives.


I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed with The Hive despite the amount of good press it is receiving. The concept is pretty impressive and the staff are informative and helpful. There were large crows which are too be expected but in the middle of all the hustle and bustle the beauty of what is going on kind of gets lost. Regardless of The Hive, any day spent wandering around Kew gardens is always a successful day spent.


Impressive structure and worth visiting but amongst the Kew Gardens there are far more impressive and beautiful areas to visit.


The Hive is a work of art that has come to Kew Gardens for a visit form Milan. It is an interactive piece and it is unique in that it allows the visitor to interact with bees. These bees are in a hive somewhere else in the gardens and their activity alters the look and sound of the installation.

It is an impressive structure from the distance. As you approach, it looks a little like a huge rectangular swarm of bees hovering over the park. When you get closer, you can see and hear its vibrancy and as you walk inside, it hums, throbs and gently changes colour with 1000 LED lights flickering. The work also contains an area where you can put a lollipop like stick into your mouth in order to mimic the method of communication of bees.

The Hive is both informative and interesting. It is also strangely relaxing in the way it filters the light as you sit inside sheltering form the sun on a warm London day. I would recommend not to rush through the artwork, it repays time spent there. The summer wildflower meadow on the walk up is beautiful too.


Despite the tempestuous and foreboding weather that is our English summertime, the brief glimpse of The Hive at Kew Gardens was an impressive one.

In spite of the thunderstorm and with a great deal of trepidation, we ventured into the base of the giant metal structure.

There are tubes which mimic the way bees communicate via vibrations, which was fascinating. We also managed to walk up into the open section but quickly retreated as the thunder intensified, the entire exhibit was closed for safety precautions shortly after.

I look forward to going back in sunnier climes to appreciate both the gardens and The Hive.


I was super excited to finally see the unveiling of The Hive, but unfortunately, there was an utter downpour on the evening I had tickets for. It's an impressive structure but definitely not one for a rainy day... they ended up closing the gardens.


As always Kew does not disappoint! The structure is amazing! I went on the preview evening and unfortunately the lightening and rain forced them to end our evening.

There is an interactive part where you put a small like piece of wood clenched in your teeth to feel the vibrations. I look forward to seeing it again on a less stormy day. It's included in your entry ticket so be sure and stop by!


The Hive is a stunning, atmospheric and large scale sculptural representation of a bee hive.  The piece buzzes with activity, be it the sound scape of bees, the flicking lights or the people enjoying it. The sculpture is situated in a beautifully landscaped wild flower garden which in turn supports bees. At this point in the season only a few flowers were out but I imagine when it reaches its peak it will be even more charming. The exhibit has staff on hand to explain more about the life of bees and the structures their hives take. There are also interactive elements which include putting a lollypop stick between your teeth, inserting it in a pole whilst placing your fingers in your ears. You’ll hear a short narrative about bees, sounds they make and the meaning behind it before hearing it yourself. The structure of the Hive is mesmerising. You can walk under it, around it and go into it. There are so many angles to capture and sounds to hear making this a wonderful addition to Kew Gardens. 


From far it looks like this magnificent installation is a swarm of bees. Up close its an impressive 17meter geometric structure made from aluminium.

It's education about pollination done in a clever and immersive way with the sounds and light which surround you making you feel part of a bee colony.

By engaging all senses the award-winning Hive tells the story of bees and their important contribution to the earth.

The surroundings of the wildflower meadow are just as impressive.

Proof that when science and nature collide amazing things can happen.


The Hive is an interesting huge metal structure; it is very innovative in educating us how bees communicate with each other using vibrations and buzzes; the Hive itself buzzes! There are special educational poles where you could mimic how bees suck nectar while listening to interesting facts about bees communications. At these poles, Pick up a wooden ice stick, put one end in your mouth and put another end at the metal slot on the pole, then block both of your ears, you could hear different bees buzzes and feel the vibrations. It was a shame that the staff had to close The Hive after a few minutes due to heavy rain... It is an open structure so it didnt protect the visitors fully from the elements.🙈