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3 hives of bees living on the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral survived the fire

Susanna Heller , Business Insider US
 Apr 20, 2019, 08:13 AM
The Notre-Dame Cathedral.

  • The bees that live on the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral survived the fire that tore through the building on Monday, a beekeeper told CNN.
  • There were three hives on the roof, each housing about 60,000 bees.
  • The beekeeper, Nicolas Geant, told CNN the bees were spared because the hives were about 30 metres from the source of the fire.
  • Geant said he planned to inspect the hives but was hopeful, as bees had been spotted buzzing around.
  • He called it "a miracle" that the bees survived the fire, which significantly damaged the cathedral's roof.


In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, it remained unclear: What would become of the bees that lived on the roof of the church?

On Friday, Nicolas Geant, a beekeeper, told CNN that the bees survived the fire that tore through the building.

"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!" Geant told CNN. "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!"

The hives, each housing some 60,000 bees, were on the roof's first level, beneath the church's iconic stained-glass rose window, CNN said.

Geant said the bees survived the fire because of where the hives were: about 30 metres from the part of the wooden roof where the flames originated and spread.

"They weren't in the middle of the fire - had they been, they wouldn't have survived," Geant told CNN. "The hives are made of wood, so they would have gone up in flames."

He said that beeswax melts at 63 degrees Celsius and that "if the hive had reached that temperature, the wax would have melted and glued the bees together; they would have all perished."

And as for the smoky conditions during the fire? That's not a problem - bees are used to it, as beekeepers have worked with smokers for centuries, Geant said.

Geant called the survival of the bees "a miracle." He said he planned to inspect the hives but was hopeful, as bees had been spotted buzzing around the cathedral this week.

"I was incredibly sad about Notre-Dame because it's such a beautiful building, and as a Catholic it means a lot to me," he told CNN. "But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that's just wonderful. I was overjoyed."

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