Cathedral's 200,000 bees survive blaze

Beekeeper Nicolas Geant said the three hives, with some 200,000 bees living in them, and kept on top of a sacristry that adjoins the Notre-Dame, were not burned. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Beekeeper Nicolas Geant said the three hives, with some 200,000 bees living in them, and kept on top of a sacristry that adjoins the Notre-Dame, were not burned. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Some 200,000 bees inhabiting hives in Notre-Dame cathedral survived the inferno that engulfed the heritage landmark in a miraculous escape.

"The bees are alive. Until this morning, I had had no news," said beekeeper Nicolas Geant, who looks after the hives kept on top of a sacristry that adjoins the cathedral.

"I thought that the three hives had burned but I had no information" after Monday's fire, he said last Thursday. "Then I saw from satellite images that this was not the case and then the cathedral spokesman told me that they were going in and out of the hives."

Mr Geant said he had been taken aback by calls of support from all corners of the world.

He said that this kind of bee does not abandon its hive, instead gorging on honey and not abandoning the queen bee.

Each hive at Notre-Dame on average produces some 25kg of honey each year, which is sold to Notre-Dame staff.

It has become increasingly customary in the French capital for bee hives to be introduced at seemingly unlikely locations, including also at the Paris Opera.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 21, 2019, with the headline 'Cathedral's 200,000 bees survive blaze'. Print Edition | Subscribe