Among the devastating loss from the Notre Dame cathedral fire, “an ounce of hope” has been discovered by anxious French beekeepers.
- The Notre Dame cathedral was badly damaged in a fire on Tuesday
- Beehives on the structure’s roof appear to be intact
- There is still uncertainty about whether the bees have survived
A fire in the central Paris cathedral blazed for several hours on Tuesday, damaging the roof and causing the spire to collapse.
Multiple drone photos of the cathedral’s roof appear to show three beehives — thought to have been destroyed by the fire — intact.
The hives have been on the roof since 2013 as part of a Parisian biodiversity project that placed bee colonies around the city, in parks and on iconic landmarks.
French urban apiculture company Beeopic, which maintains the hives, posted a message in French on its Instagram page.
“An ounce of hope! The pictures taken by different drones show that the three hives are still in place … and obviously intact!” a translation of the post said.
Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Géant told the ABC he was confident the bees had survived and described the fire as a “great sadness”.
“There are about 60,000 bees per hive, and we have three of them,” he said.
“I think and I hope the bees survived.
“There has been a great relationship between church and bees for centuries.
“Many churchmen influenced modern beekeeping like Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in England.”
The Instagram account said the group had not yet accessed the roof and could not confirm whether the bee colonies had remained in the hives.
“Smoke, heat, water… we will see if our brave bees are still with us as soon as we have access… which may take a lot of time,” the post said.
“You will obviously be informed. We wish to thank you for all your messages of support, which touch us enormously.”
Notre Dame’s official website said the hives were part of push to support the local environment.
“Their role is indispensable in nature. The presence of bees is a sign of the good health of our environment and their preservation is also saving the planet,” a translation said.
Hope for the bees
French apiarist Vanessa Hoo, who lives in Adelaide, has been keenly following the project from afar.
She said the fact the hives had survived was a positive sign for the bees.
“Seeing the fire, I was like ‘oh, the hives are gone, the bees are burning’ and I was thinking in my head, ‘this is a loss of beehives and bees in Paris and they’re important’,” she said.
However, Ms Hoo said bees could survive large fires.
“If it was very cold that day, maybe they decided to stay inside of the hive,” she said.
“At a fire in Victoria during summer, the house burned down, and the hive itself survived.
“You could see the clear lines of the ashes all around it, and the bees survived.
“The bees were there, and the flames would have been 50 centimetres away.”
However, she said prolonged heat often impacted hives as the wax softened.
“It really all depends on the hive and the colony, and how strong they are, and the environment they were in,” she said.