Notre Dame Cathedral’s three beehives — home to more than 180,000 bees — survived Monday’s destructive fire.
The keeper of the hives, Nicolas Geant, shared the good news on Thursday.
“The bees are alive. Until this morning, I had had no news,” Geant, who has cared for the hives since they were installed in 2013, told AFP.
Geant originally feared the worst for the hives, which produce over 165 pounds of honey each year, but held out hope the bees survived after spotting the hives intact through satellite imagery.
“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!” the beekeeper told CNN.
The hives are located just below the cathedral’s iconic rose window on the roof over the sacristy. Located below Notre Dame’s main roof, which was devastated by the Monday’s fire, the hives were able to endure the blaze unscathed.
“They weren’t in the middle of the fire, had they been they wouldn’t have survived,” Geant said. “The hives are made of wood so they would have gone up in flames.”
If the hives got too hot, Geant added, “the wax would have melted and glued the bees together, they would have all perished.”
The Notre Dame hives are part of a Paris-wide effort to increase the declining number of bees, reports the Associated Press. Hives have been placed on other beloved Paris buildings, including the Palais Garnier opera house.