The church has housed three beehives with around 60,000 bees each since 2013. These are located some 30 meters below the main roof where the fire spread and as a result they were saved.
As fire raged on top of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, thousands of people watched in horror, not just in Paris but around the world. The sight of wooden frames made from logs that were over 200 years old, the conspicuous spire that towered over the historic landmark, all turning to embers broke the hearts of many. Besides of course the massive losses of the cultural history the cathedral represented, the church management had another smaller but nevertheless an important concern--that of the bees sheltered by one of the roofs of the cathedral for a few years now.
When the fire broke out in the church, the bees were not the first concerns but the church management is sure glad that these residents survived the devastating fire reports CNN. Nicolas Geant, the beekeeper at the cathedral said, "I got a call from Andre Finot, the spokesman for Notre Dame, who said there were bees flying in and out of the hives which means they are still alive. Right after the fire I looked at the drone pictures and saw the hives weren't burnt but there was no way of knowing if the bees had survived. Now I know there's activity it's a huge relief!"
'It's a miracle': hundreds of thousands of bees survive Notre Dame fire https://t.co/3LpfuEIABw— The Guardian (@guardian) April 19, 2019
180,000 bees that live in the Notre Dame survived the fire. Their beekeeper says the smoke didn't hurt them (since they don't have lungs), it just made them fall asleep. 🐝 pic.twitter.com/462d3sjgfX— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 19, 2019
Since 2013, there have been three beehives housed in the cathedral which were kept in the roof of the first floor. There are approximately 60,000 bees housed in each of the hives. It looks like the beehives were saved due to plain luck and for this, not only Geant but the church must be quite relieved. The bees were not hurt and even their hives not destroyed. The reason for this, however, according to Geant is due to the fact that the beehives were located quite away from the center of the fire. As a result, they were not at all touched by the blaze.
"Notre Dame has housed three beehives on the first floor on a roof over the sacristy, just beneath the rose window, since 2013"–they all survived the fire. https://t.co/1bZZ3QhiKr— Kelly Hills (@rocza) April 19, 2019
Some 200,000 bees inhabiting hives in Notre-Dame cathedral survived the inferno that engulfed the heritage landmark in a miraculous escape 🐝 https://t.co/TAbtfqpuZA— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 18, 2019
The hives were located about 30 meters below the main roof where the fire broke out. Geant said, "They weren't in the middle of the fire, had they been they wouldn't have survived. The hives are made of wood so they would have gone up in flames." The bees would have met a rather grisly end had the fire reached the hive as Geant further explained, "Wax melts at 63 degrees if the hive had reached that temperature the wax would have melted and glued the bees together, they would have all perished."
This picture shows the bees were outside the burn zone at Notre Dame Cathedral -we hope they survived the heat and ashy air! #bees #beekeeping #NotreDameFire #NotreDameCathedral #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/RF3uSjQS2b— BBKA (@britishbee) April 17, 2019
He added, "While it is likely that the hives were filled with smoke, that doesn't impact them like it would with humans. Bees don't have lungs like us. And secondly, for centuries to work with the bees we have used bee smokers." Bee smokers are an essential tool in beekeeping and used to calm the bees down in so as to retrieve honey from the hive. While Geant said he does not know whether or not all the bees are alive since he was yet to inspect the site, he did, however, say that he was quite sure that most of them are alive since the hives were not destroyed in the fire.
Geant said, "I was incredibly sad about Notre Dame because it's such a beautiful building, and as a Catholic, it means a lot to me. But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that's just wonderful. I was overjoyed. Thank goodness the flames didn't touch them. It's a miracle!"
Following the devastating fire, President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre Dame to its full glory and said in a brief speech, that he with the support of the citizens "together' will build the cathedral in the next 5 years. A number of billionaires have also come forward for the cause of re-building Notre Dame.
Disney, makers of the animated movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame donated around $5 million. Recently Salma Hayek's billionaire husband, Francois-Henri Pinault, who owns luxury brands Gucci and Saint Laurent also donated over $100 million. All in all, the donation has reached nearly $1billion. We are sure that some of this will go to making the bees of Notre Dame a bit more secure and safe.