Review of 'The Hive Lates'

When we heard about Kew offering a late-night event where we could view “The Hive” lit up at night, we could not resist. “The Hive” is a newly installed art work at Kew that is a large square structure with an round interior that you can enter and look out of - Inside there are lights that pulsate and music that reacts in response to the activity in a nearby bee-hive. Of course, during the day it has no where near the impact as seeing it at night…

Inside at Night

We were notified of the specific arrangements only earlier in the day of the event, being told to use the Elizabeth gate rather than the main entrance where we joined a long queue for the first timed entry at 7:00 pm (there were a number of other slots available but we wanted to maximize our time there). After passing through the gates we were pleasantly surprised to be serenaded by a quartet of musicians on the side of the path as we were guided to the Orangery. At one end of the building were displays about the science of bees (including a small beehive) and people you could ask about bees including some scientists working at Kew to investigate the impact of pesticides on bee colonies. We were also able to try some local, organic, “free range” honey and compare it to the taste of honey from the supermarket (the local honey had a far more delicate, deep flavour). There was a table where you could try your hand at rolling a beeswax candle. Of course, they were also selling a number of souvenirs and guidebooks. At the other end of the building they had tables set up so you could do some “colouring in” of bee-oriented line art and another area where you could do some silk screening of bee art (which was quite beautiful). The restaurant was also open offering some bee-related food (including honey cakes) and snacks. Many people made a bee-line (sorry) for the food and sat in front of the building to enjoy the early evening.

Inside the Orangery

Of course, the main event was to actually visit the Hive sculpture located just off of the Great Board Walk surrounded by the newly re-designed borders which, in the fading light, were still an amazing sight. At intervals we were entertained by performers - Fire eaters and dancers.

The Hive sculpture itself is amazing looking with the large square steel skeleton rising out of the top of a hill. Below the sculpture there were guides giving an introduction to the display and the plight of the modern bee. The speakers were very good and popular with the visitors.


We also took a few minutes to try the listening posts - Where you put a wood stick between your teeth and stuck the other end into a post that vibrated so you could hear the sounds by bone conduction in your head, the sounds of bees communicating things like where flowers were. This was very interesting indeed. Looking up you could see into the heart of the sculpture.

From Below

Heading around we entered the Hive itself, waiting a few minutes outside for the crowded interior to first clear. It is a large round sphere with a railing surrounding the circular floor. The lights surround you and as the sun set it got more and more beautiful, and, quite peaceful despite the noisy crowds. The lights and music are hypnotic. Worth every penny.

Look Up Wonder from Inside The Floor

By about 9:00 everything was closing up but we could still see the sculpture with the lights through the trees as we had a snack in the Orangery.

All in all, an amazing experience and worth the price of £20. Definitely recommended for those looking for a pleasant evening in the gardens of Kew and inside an amazing and moving piece of art.

Looking Down from the Hive at Night Outside the Hive at Night

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2016-09-01

Kew Gardens

Location: London (England)

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB

Public Transport: NRLOGO Kew Gardens TUBE Kew Gardens

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8332 5655


Wonderful place to visit with extensive gardens as well as the famous pagoda, the lake, and greenhouse with a very long history. The new treetop walk is also a great thing to do. Worth spending a good amount of time just wandering around - A day well spent.

There are a number of annual events held here including the Orchid Festival, “Kew the Music”, “Write on Kew” and,“Christmas at Kew”.