Since 2013, the now partially calcined cathedral of Paris was home to a colony of honey bees, part of a project to restore urban beekeeping.
PARIS FRANCE (beeopic.apiculture) – The dramatic images of fire and smoke in Notre Dame Cathedral have broken hearts around the world in recent days. The fire has forced us to go through the details and secrets of one of the most emblematic buildings in Paris one by one.
One of the little-known aspects is the existence of a colony of bees on the roofs of the cathedral, installed in 2013 as part of a project to restore urban beekeeping in the French capital.
What happened to the three beehives at Notre Dame?
In view of the images of the evening and night of Wednesday April 15, one could not think of anything other than the total calcination of this small colony of honey-producing insects. In other words, the death of the approximately 150,000 bees living on the roof of Notre Dame since in each of the beehives hosted a colony of approximately 50,000 bees.
Those in charge of the beekeeping company Beeopic, manager and operator of the beehives of Notre Dame, published on Wednesday 15 various messages on social networks showing their concern for the bees of the cathedral; and thanking the messages of support and solidarity received immediately after the fire.
One of the drones used by the fire brigades and police forces working in the calcined area showed, after 16 hours, the first images of what’s left of the Notre Dame roof, and those responsible for Beeopic were able to clearly locate the place where they had installed the hives.
The roofs of Notre Dame occupy a large area of the cathedral and its annexes. In the spring of 2013, when Notre Dame joined the project to support urban beekeeping in Paris, it was decided that the most appropriate place to install the beehives was the roof located above the sacristy, near John XXIII Square.
The zenithal images of the southern part of the cathedral showed that the beehives of Notre Dame had been saved from the flames. They have been saved from disaster by a few meters, and the hives still stand like the stone structures of the cathedral itself. This was the explanation given by Beeopic’s directors on Thursday night through their Instagram and Facebook accounts.
“Smoke, heat, water … we will see if our brave bees are still with us as soon as we have access to the area”, informed the people in charge of the beehives of Notre Dame.
The news is initially hopeful although it is evident that the physical integrity of the boxes with the hives does not necessarily mean that the bee colonies are still alive and in good condition.
The bees of the Notre Dame beehive belong to the “Hermano Adan” (also known as Buckfast) variety; a breed obtained about a century ago by hybridization of resistant bee varieties.
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