Paris [France]: The massive fire, which broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral last week caused its famous spire to collapse, but did not rip the three beehives installed on the rooftop of the iconic 13th-century Gothic architecture.
“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!” beekeeper of the Cathedral, Nicolas 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!” Geant was quoted as saying.
The iconic monument has housed three beehives on the first floor of its roof over the sacristy since 2013. Each hive has about 60,000 bees.
The beekeeper said that the hives remained untouched by last Monday’s blaze as they were located about 30 meters below the main roof where the fire spread.
Geant said, “They weren’t in the middle of the fire, had they been they wouldn’t have survived,” adding that “the hives are made of wood so they would have gone up in flames.”
“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,” he added.
It is likely that the hives were filled with smoke, but that did not affect the bees, the beekeeper explained.
“Bees don’t have lungs like us,” he said.
“And secondly, for centuries to work with the bees we have used bee smokers,” he added.
However, Geant was unable to confirm the number of bees alive as he was not permitted the visit the site following the mishap previous week. But the beekeeper was confident that the hives didn’t burn because he witnessed the bees flying in and out of the hives.
“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 bee that’s just wonderful. I was overjoyed,” he added.
“Thank goodness the flames didn’t touch them. It’s a miracle!”
Nearly two-thirds of the roof of the 850-year-old French gothic architecture was severely damaged by the devastating fire on April 15.
Corporate and individual donations, including some major companies such as LVMH Group, Kering, L’Oreal, and Walt Disney, for Notre Dame, have continued to pour in after a call from French President Emmanuel Macron for a fundraising campaign.