The bees that live on the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral survive the flames

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Notre Dame CathedralAuthor image
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The cathedral beekeeper Nicolas Geant says the bees would get drunk on smoke from the fire

The smaller inhabitants of Notre-Dame survived the devastating fire that destroyed most of the cathedral's roof and overthrew its famous spire.

Initially it was thought that some 200,000 bees that lived in hives on the roof had perished in the fire.

However, Nicolas Géant, the cathedral beekeeper, confirmed that the bees are alive and buzzing.

Mr. Géant has curated the three hives of the cathedral since 2013, when they were installed.

This was part of an initiative to increase the number of bees throughout Paris.

The beehives are located at the top of the sacristy on the south side of Notre-Dame, about 30 m below the main roof. As a result, Géant claims not to have been touched by the flames.

European bees – unlike other species – remain next to their hive after sensing danger, swallowing honey and working to protect their queen.

High temperatures would have been the greatest risk, but Mr. Géant explained that any smoke would simply inject them.

"Instead of killing them, carbon dioxide makes them drunk, puts them to sleep," he told the AP.

Beekeepers commonly use smoke to quell insects and gain access to their hive.

"I was incredibly sad about Notre-Dame because it is such a beautiful building," said Géant in an interview with CNN.

"But feeling that there is life when it comes to bees, it's just wonderful."

"Thank goodness the flames didn't touch them," he added. "It's a miracle!"

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