A great day out at the Hive at Kew Gardens
If you get the chance to visit the splendid gardens at Kew this year and possibly next year, you must visit the award winning Hive. I was n’t sure what to expect as I approached this huge gleaming ‘see through’ metal hive on stilts! It’s when I went underneath it and put a lolly ice stick into my mouth, placed it inside a metal tube and felt the vibrations and heard bee noises via my cheekbones, that I started to wonder and appreciate the thought that had gone into this wonderfully artistic structure, designed by UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress. Going onto the next level was rather magical, with hundreds of LED lights that glow and fade in time with music by BE, and 40,000 honeybees humming and buzzing. A multi-sensory experience for sure! Well worth a visit, especially now as the nights draw in allowing you to appreciate the LEDs.
Talking of buzzes I was intrigued to see how the solitary bee nest boxes were doing at Kew. I was lucky to be in the company of Dr. Hauke Kocke, a Kew bumblebee researcher, who showed myself and Prof. Dave Goulson author of “A Sting in the Tale” fame around the splendid gardens.
I was very pleased the Nurturing Nature bee nest boxes had been used by Red Mason and Leafcutters bees. However, the Reds will emerge well before the leafcutters and may chew their way through when they exit. They will be removed and stored away safely till next summer I was assured!
For lunch we met up with Prof. Phil Stevenson, senior Research leader, Chemical Ecology at Kew, in the magnificent Orangery completed in 1761, now a restaurant serving tasty and fresh seasonal foods. Somehow or other the conversation veered towards….. wild bees! How strange! The conversation included research and not being actively involved in this academic scientific area, I informed them of a new book, edited by Prof. Jill Atkins and Barry Atkins, which looks at aspects of bee decline that many people have not thought about. The book, The Business of Bees I will write about at in another article shortly.
The World’s most famous gardens, Kew Gardens, with over 100 world class attractions, inspirational gardens, landscapes, buildings and glasshouses, is without doubt a must visit for gardeners. Behind the scenes they employ specialist researchers, with many different science departments. It has to be worth a days visit. You will be so glad you did! It is so much more than a garden! It will undoubtedly give you a buzz!