The Notre Dame Cathedral's beekeeper, Nicolas Géant, says bees living on the roof of the historic landmark miraculously survived the devastating fire this week.
Since 2013, Notre Dame has been home to three beehives kept on the first-floor roof beneath one of its iconic rose windows. According to CNN, which first reported the bees survived, each hive is home to about 60,000 bees.
Géant told CNN that the bees were seen buzzing about as usual after Monday's horrific fire, which led to the collapse of the cathedral's spire and the wooden latticework of the building's roof. He said they likely survived because the portion of the roof they are housed on is somewhat separated from the parts that were engulfed in flames.
"They weren't in the middle of the fire, had they been they wouldn't have survived," Géant told CNN. "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.
He explained that the hives were likely filled with smoke from the fires, but that bees don't have lungs like humans and for centuries beekeepers have used smoker boxes to work with bees.
"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!"
The bees' survival adds to the surprising and celebrated list of things that escaped the fire, which officials at first thought may destroy the entire cathedral. The iconic 13th century rose windows, the rectangular towers, several religious relics and the altar and cross all survived.View this post on Instagram
Une once d'espoir ! Les photos prises par différents drones montrent que les 3 ruches sont toujours en place... et visiblement intactes ! Pour ce qui est des occupantes, le mystère reste entier. Fumée, chaleur, eau... nous verrons si nos courageuses abeilles sont encore parmi nous dès que nous aurons accès à l'emplacement, ce qui risque de prendre beaucoup de temps. Vous serez bien évidemment informés. Nous souhaitons vous remercier pour tous vos messages de soutien, qui nous touchent énormément. ❤ #Beeopic #NotreDame #NotreDameDeParis #apiculture #abeilles #ruches #espoir #paris #battantes
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Unfortunately, large parts of the roof, the spire and some art and artifacts did not make it.
Millions of euros have already been donated by organizations, companies and countries across the globe to rebuild the cathedral.