The Pavilion of the United Kingdom participated in Expo Milano 2015 offering visitors the chance to see what life would be like as a bee, flying from flower to flower across a typical English garden to return to its beehive.
The journey started outside, in an orchard where typical English apple trees were grown, blossoming and producing fruits throughout the six months. After there was a grass field with selections of typical British wild flowers, like heathers, buttercups and shamrocks, which grew at eyes’ height so as to reproduce the same view that bees would enjoy while flying around. In the background there was the striking form of a bee hive, an aluminum sculpture (weighting 30 tons and 14 meters high) that reminded us of a honeycomb. The sound of a beehive was also studied in the detail, and a selection of British artists have recreated the atmosphere of a dialogue with nature.
When you were below the hive structure, the columns offered an original experience: if you put some wood sticks in your mouth you could try to ‘buzz’ like a bee and experience how these insects communicate. By exploiting bone conduction – e.g. sound conduction through the bones of your skull, you could hear four types of vibrations that honeybees use to ‘talk’ inside the hive: supplication, dance (communicating where food is located), trumpet (the song of the virgin Queen bee who challenges an unborn queen) and the streaky trumpet sound (between two Queen bees who assess the rival’s strength).
In the center of the British hive
The focal point of the visit was the access (on the upper floor) to the core of the hive: when you entered you were surrounded by impulses and buzzes, together with 1,000 small LED lights connected with real bees in a hive in the United Kingdom, giving the impression that you were in the core of a real hive.
The walls along the stairs to the ground-floor exit, displayed off the achievements of the United Kingdom in the fields of research and technological innovation: Britain was itself a hive of innovation and creativity that helped feeding the Planet.
At the snack area… honey, and more
A real British-style experience was offered at the snack area too, that vaguely reminded us of a pub. Proposals included breakfast (the traditional English breakfast, with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, bacon, beans and sausage), the not to be missed muffins and scones, fish & chips, sandwiches, cold salads and the legendary afternoon tea at 5 o’clock for real Anglophiles.