Town Mouse

Good, good vi­bra­tions

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ONE end of the lol­lipop stick was poked into a small slit in the metal col­umn and the other end I was bit­ing on, dis­cov­er­ing how to ‘hear’ bee con­ver­sa­tions through the bones in my head. ‘You need to cover your ears, too,’ one pass­ing vis­i­tor ad­vised me. Ah, that’s bet­ter. I could hear it all, via my jaws. A ‘beg­ging’ hon­ey­bee was re­quest­ing food; ‘toot­ing’ and ‘quack­ing’ vi­bra­tions in­di­cated a stand­off be­tween two vir­gin queen bees, siz­ing each other up. I was in­side The Hive, a huge metal­lic struc­ture in the Royal Botanic Gar­dens, Kew. And there’s more: 1,000 or so LED lights flicker in re­sponse to live go­ings-on within a real hive.

De­spite the sun­shine, ice-cream ven­dors and breath­tak­ing sum­mer beauty of the park, The Hive lures and cap­ti­vates the vis­i­tors. Kew is on a roll. Only last month, The Prince of Wales be­came the new royal pa­tron of the gar­dens, the world’s long­est dou­ble herba­ceous bor­der was un­veiled and the gar­dens launched its own or­ganic gin. After years of woe­ful fund­ing cuts, re­cently, it has se­cured some £130 mil­lion of funds for the next few years. This is Kew’s an­nus mirabilis. KBH

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