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Summer at Kew; fascinating relationships between plants & pollinators revealed

17 June – 29 October 2017 • Wolfgang Buttress’ Hive flourishes in the Kew landscape • Explore the newly opened Woodland House within the wilder parts of Kew • Discover the crucial role of pollinators and take action to help

This summer, visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will delight in the beauty of two giant installations: Wolfgang Buttress’ mesmerising 17 metre high aluminium Hive and the rustic tranquillity of the newly opened Woodland House. Hands on learning, nature conservation and pollinator health will take centre stage in this interactive, experiential summer across all corners of Kew’s wonderfully wild and beautifully manicured 300 acre site.

Spectacular plant and pollinator relationships flourish within Kew Gardens amongst its 14,000 trees, 19,000 species of plants, 30,000 plants along the Great Broad Walk Borders and luscious wildflower meadow surrounding The Hive. But this summer, visitors will be invited to look beyond the beauty as they discover how insect pollination is vital to feeding the planet, and that without these fundamental creatures, life on earth would change. Visitors will be inspired to take action as they discover what insect-friendly plants to grow at home, how to build their own insect hotel, and what else they can do to help.

Building on the phenomenal interest in the stunning Hive structure in 2016, summer 2017 will continue to offer so much for visitors to explore. Pollinators enjoy an intimate relationship with plants, and The Hive creates a powerful, immersive space to explore the challenges bees face, giving a glimpse of life inside a bee colony. Surrounded by a blooming wildflower meadow, this magnificent 17 metre high aluminium latticework twists out of the ground with its 1000 LEDs hypnotically pulsating while a beautiful orchestral soundscape fills the space. Both the lights and the sound are controlled by bees in a living hive on site at Kew, and this poignant, calming and meditative space stands as a shining beacon of the importance that bees and wild pollinators play in feeding humanity.

Kew’s second annual Science Festival in August will offer an excellent opportunity for more visitors to delve further into the intriguing world of these extraordinary creatures, as Kew science comes out of the labs and into the Gardens.

During the summer, visitors will take part in arts and crafts sessions, making handmade flowers which will come to life in a stop motion animation with the help of professional animators from the award winning Chocolate Films (the masterminds behind this short). This charming animation will expose the incredible relationships between plants and beetles as pollinators, with visitors playing an integral role in its creation. The finished picture will be unveiled in autumn at the annual Kew the Movies film festival.

Richard Deverell, Director of RBG Kew says “We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors of all ages to explore the weird and wonderful world of wild pollinators. Whether they animate their own handmade flowers or admire the mesmerising beauty of The Hive, my hope is they will be inspired to consider plants and pollinators in their everyday, and help us tackle the challenges they face. Our unparalleled collections allow us to show the importance that plant and fungi have in our world and the integral relationships they have with pollinators. What a joy it is to be able to capture the imagination of our visitors with such an inspired and interactive programme of summer fun.”


For images and more information please contact the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email

Notes to editors:

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.  Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst, attract over 1.5 million visits every year.  Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009.  Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

Chocolate Films is a Battersea based film production company specialising in documentary film production and engagement programmes. Set up in 2001 by award winning Directors Mark Currie and Rachel Wang, Chocolate Films has a team of 18 filmmakers providing full production services to charities, museums, galleries and heritage organisations, as well as cinema documentaries, working with a wide range of brands and institutions including Jeep, Arup, V & A, The Institute of Directors, Big Issue and Tate. Each year we outreach to over 2000 young people and vulnerable adults teaching filmmaking and new media skills. Chocolate Films is a specialist in huge scale community engagement using video. It is currently producing the acclaimed web series, the most comprehensive documentary ever produced about a city. Chocolate Films has also been selected as one of the local social enterprises to be based in the Nine Elms development on the Southbank in 2021.

The Hive: The UK Pavilion was designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, and created by BDP, Simmonds Studio and Stage One. To reflect the Expo 2015 theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” the UK Pavilion highlighted the ground breaking UK research in pollinators, principally the bee, and their role in the global food chain, including by renowned scientist Dr. Martin Bencsik, who has been conducting pioneering research into bee vibration and communication patterns.

Wolfgang Buttress creates sculptures which seek to define and celebrate a sense of place. His work alludes to histories, traces and memories, which are both personal, contextual and aim to express the sublime. The artworks establish a connection to something timeless and elemental, increasingly, he has drawn inspiration from nature, collaborating with experts to explore and interpret scientific discoveries. Wolfgang has created and exhibited artworks in the UK and internationally. His awards include the Japanese Kajima Gold Award for ‘Space’ (2014) and the Structural Steel Award for projects under £2 million (2013).  More recently his UK Pavilion design created for the 2015 Milan Expo was awarded the BIE gold award for ‘best pavilion architecture and landscape’.