Notre Dame Rooftop Bees Appear to Have Survived the Fire

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Notre Dame bees on a gargoyle CROP FOR SOCIAL. beeopic/Instagram

The bees that live in three hives on a secondary roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris survived the fire, even though the roof was mostly destroyed. Drone footage shows a cluster of bees on one of the church's gargoyles and all three hives apparently untouched by the blaze.

"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 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!"

A day after the fire, the Paris-based urban-beekeeping company Beeopic Apiculture, the company that cares for the bees, posted drone photos on social media showing the three standing hives. They wrote, "An Ounce of hope! The photos taken by different drones show that the 3 hives are still in place ... and visibly intact! As for the [occupants], the mystery remains whole. Smoke, heat, water ... we will see if our brave bees are still among us. You will obviously be informed. We would like to thank you for your support, which affects us very much."

Geant, shown working with the bees before the fire struck, is eager to get back up to the roof to know about how the bees are faring.
Geant, shown working with the bees before the fire struck, is eager to get back up to the roof to know about how the bees are faring. Nicolas Geant/Beeopic

Then on Thursday, they shared some elated news with a photo of the bees clustered on the neck of one of the cathedral's gargoyles. "Our bees from the Notre Dame Cathedral are still alive !! Confirmation from the site's officials !! Our Lady's bees are still alive !!"

They added a call out to #saintambroise, patron saint of beekeepers.

Beehives first came to the cathedral in spring of 2013, according to the Notre Dame website. They were placed on the roof over the sacristy, which is just beneath the famed rose window. There are about 60,000 bees in each hive.

Geant told CNN that the hives were not affected by the fire because they are located about 30 meters (98 feet) below the main roof where the fire spread.

Although the hives were likely filled with smoke, bees aren't impacted by smoke like humans are, Geant said.

Although he is hopeful the bees have survived, he won't know for sure until he can get up on the roof and inspect the hives and see the bees for himself.

"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," he told CNN. "Thank goodness the flames didn't touch them. It's a miracle!"