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posted by martyb on Sunday April 21 2019, @03:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-all-the-buzz dept.

Notre Dame's bees rather surprisingly have survived the conflagration that has consumed the cathedral's wooden roof.

Notre Dame is home to 180,000 bees that have lived in several hives on the roof of the stone sacristy since 2003. The bees were installed as part of a city wide initiative to help with the declining bee population. The cathedral was only one of the historic sites where hives were placed.

"When bees sense fire, they gorge themselves on honey and stay to protect their queen, who doesn't move," [Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant] said. "I saw how big the flames were, so I immediately thought it was going to kill the bees. Even though they were 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) lower than the top roof, the wax in the hives melts at 63 degrees Celsius (145.4 Fahrenheit)."

If the wax that protects their hive melts, the bees simply die inside, Geant explained.

Fortunately the smoke itself is relatively innocuous for bees, beekeepers regularly smoke hives to put bees to sleep.

Notre Dame officials saw the bees on top of the sacristy Friday, buzzing in and out of their hives.

"I wouldn't call it a miracle, but I'm very, very happy," Geant added.

The honey from the hives (about 165lbs/75kgs annually) is sold to Notre Dame employees. Presumably this year's batch will have a unique smokey flavor.

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  • (Score: 2) by bussdriver on Sunday April 21 2019, @04:14PM

    by bussdriver (6876) on Sunday April 21 2019, @04:14PM (#832980)

    It is a chance to explain in more detail about bees and how it was not a miracle; AP reporter went halfway.

    Bees of all kinds survive amazingly harsh conditions; some people think they migrate or die every year (like wasps) but all that honey's purpose is for their survival. Wax and honey absorb a lot of temperature; far more than most materials. Look of the specific heat; phase change takes extra energy too. Filling themselves up with honey increases their heat tolerance. The bees wings act like fans as well and finally-- honey bees love wooden homes and wood is a natural insulator and even when it burns the surface char is an insulator; it burns slowly (which is why you chop logs to burn them.)

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