The world was shaken to hear the news that Notre Dame, one of the structural pride of France along with the Eiffel Tower, was ablaze on April 15.
Rich in history and faith, the 800-year-old cathedral boasts of intricate architectural design. Although the world wept as they witnessed colors of red and orange eat the topmost part of the landmark, Parisians were probably worried about the bees living on the rooftop.
Yup, there are insects living at the roof of Notre Dame, as most local citizens would know. But according to beekeeper Nicolas Geant, there is no need to fret as the creatures are still buzzing, thank goodness.
Just like us who feared the worst has happened, he initially thought that the bees were affected by the fire. After hearing from the cathedral’s spokesperson Andre Finot about the insect flying out of their hives, a sign that there’s at least activity from the pollinators, the beekeeper was finally relieved.
Location of the Bee Hives
Nicholas also sighed a breath of relief after seeing drone photos of the roof where the hives remained intact and unharmed.
Specifically, there are three structures that house the insects on the roof of the first floor over the sacristy and had been there since 2013.
That said, the location rendered helpful for the survival of the bees during the fire because the beehives were situated 30 meters below the roof where the blaze started.
The beekeeper said that had the hives been located on the main roof, then, clear as day, they wouldn’t make it. Plus, the main roof is made of oak wood and the fire would easily eat the beehives, too.
That’s not all, if the houses of the bees were located somewhere nearer the site of the fire, the wax, which melts at 63 degrees, could glue all the bees, making it impossible for the insects to escape.
How the Bees Survived
Apart from the location of the hives that proved to be useful for the creatures, the bees themselves are pretty tough.
Unlike us humans who would find it hard to move once we inhale smoke, bees don’t have lungs so they won’t likely be affected even if their hives were filled with smoke.
According to the Department of Health, short term smoke inhalation for humans could result in throat, nose, and eye irritation. However, what the carbon dioxide does to the insects is that it puts them to sleep.
Nicholas also expressed concern over the fact that when bees sense fire, they do everything to protect their queen. In doing so, they stuff themselves with honey and stay put to protect their mother who also wouldn’t budge.
Why Are the Bees Crucial?
The introduction of bees in the area was made six years ago as part of a biodiversity project in the city and also because the population of the bees was declining.
Indeed, these insects play a huge role in the ecosystem, much more than we imagine. The non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace notes that 90 percent of wild plants should be credited on insect pollinators like bees, which are also responsible for pollinating about a third of food crops.
The European Crop Protection echoes the same sentiment and advises farmers not to endanger the lives of pollinators with pesticides.
Up to 53 percent of European bees are lost during winter, which is the result of climate change, parasites, and many other factors.