Notre Dame Cathedral's bees, kept in hives on the historic church's roof, survived the fire earlier this week, the beekeeper says.
"I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn. I thought they had gone with the cathedral," beekeeper Nicolas Geant told the Associated Press on Friday.
The 180,000 bees live in three hives on Notre Dame's roof as part of an effort since 2013 to help prevent bee die-off.
"I got a call from Andre Finot, the spokesman for Notre Dame, who said there were bees flying in and out of the hives which means they are still alive!" Geant told CNN.
The hives are located on a sacristy roof about 100 feet below the main roof that burned, which allowed them to endure the fire, he told CNN.
Nos abeilles de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris sont toujours en vie !! Confirmation de la part des responsables du site !! ❤🐝❤ Notre-Dame's bees are still alive !! #Beeopic #apiculture #abeilles #ruches #NotreDame #Notredamedeparis #cathedrale #ambroise #saintambroise #stambroise #miracle
A post shared by Beeopic 🍯 (@beeopic) on Apr 18, 2019 at 4:25am PDT
While the hives are safe, Geant told CNN he still needs to inspect the site.
Bees have no lungs and carbon dioxide in smoke sedates them, according to Geant. European bees don't abandon their hives, and when they sense fire, they "gorge themselves on honey" and protect their queen, he told the AP.
Monday's fire at Notre Dame torched the cathedral's roof, but the structure of the church still stands after firefighters quelled the flames. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild in five years, though some architecture experts say it may take at least a decade.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Still alive!': Notre Dame's 180,000 bees survive cathedral fire