Notre Dame's bees rather surprisingly have survived [startribune.com] 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.