Thousands of bees to feature in musical performance

A live performance featuring 40,000 ‘musical’ bees from a hive at Nottingham Trent University will be part of a ground breaking show with sounds from the insects.

Bees in a hive

A live performance featuring 40,000 ‘musical’ bees from a hive at Nottingham Trent University will be part of a ground breaking show with sounds from the insects.

Sounds will be collected from the vibrations of honey bees at the university’s Brackenhurst Campus and live streamed into St Mary’s Church, Nottingham, for three performances described as a “symphony of bees and man”.

Performances on 16 and 17 December, will feature the church choir with 3D sound and visual images of honey bees in action projected onto the musicians.

Leading the project, Nottingham Trent University fine art graduate Wolfgang Buttress created a group known as ‘BE’, who have together released a critically-acclaimed album titled One.

Music from the album features the harmonious buzzing of bees, as well as extraordinary pulsed messages coming from individual bees, all collected by Dr Martin Bencsik, a physicist from the School of Science and Technology, who has been instrumental in the success of the album.

Using accelerometers – devices to detect tiny vibrations in the hive – Dr Bencsik’s research into honey bee communication has allowed the group to create the album and a new single Blue Lullaby , which has been released ahead of Christmas.

The single references a 16th century festive carol and incorporates previously unheard vibrational signals, derived from Dr Bencsik’s research. The haunting signals that can be heard in the track are believed to be female worker bees ‘talking’ to their unborn larvae.

The live performances further develop the partnership between Dr Bencsik and Wolfgang Buttress, who previously collaborated to create a 14 metre aluminium structure known as The Hive.

The Hive was created as part of the UK’s Pavilion at the World Expo in Milan and can now be enjoyed by the public at the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens for at least another year. It includes LEDs which echo vibrations from nearby Kew beehives.

The lattice sculpture is an abstract representation of honeycomb, and was originally designed to highlight the importance of insect pollination in the production of food.

Artist Wolfgang Buttress said: “The musical sound piece takes the listener on a reflective journey making connections to the changing seasons of life and man’s relationship with nature. The music is both melancholic and uplifting.”

After starting the band in February this year, BE will return to Nottingham after performing in numerous locations around the UK, which included an appearance on BBC’s Spring Watch and a culminating show at Kew’s The Hive.

Dr Bencsik of Nottingham Trent University added: “The show has grown in maturity and popularity; the continuing success story of The Hive is not unlike that of the Eiffel tower. Born within a World Expo, it keeps fascinating people, and will do so for many years to come.

“I am very excited to attend the new show this December, in a splendid venue, with a new track and added church choir. My wife and good friends will be performing on stage, bringing alive the magic atmosphere of Christmas. I cannot wait for it to happen – if you don’t believe in angels, wait until you see and hear lead singer Camille Christel on stage.”

The album and new single will be performed on 16 December at 6.30pm, and 17 December at 3.30pm and 7pm.

For more information about the performances, visit Bee and Man.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Head of Communications, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.


    Nottingham Trent University’s five-year strategic plan Creating the University of the Future has five main ambitions: Creating Opportunity, Valuing Ideas, Enriching Society, Connecting Globally and Empowering People

    The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was awarded to Nottingham Trent University in November 2015. It is the highest national honour for a UK university and recognises the institution’s world-class research. Pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula, and combat food fraud, led to the prestigious award

Thousands of bees to feature in musical performance

Published on 13 December 2016
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design; School of Science and Technology

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