The Lucky Bees of Notre Dame

This time last year, I soaked up the sun in Europe. Of all the places I travelled—and there were many favourites spots for different reasons—France was very high on my list of most-loved destinations. This was mainly due to the bee-love I experienced there. From the urban gardens and rooftops of Paris, to quaint and remote villages in the countryside, bees were living it up! A country with a famous reputation for romance, it surely won me over.

Now, Paris is a city dear to many people’s hearts. And I clearly remember seeing the incredible Notre Dame for the first time and being completely amazed. Notre-Dame de Paris (or, “Our Lady of Paris”) is a medieval Catholic Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary and considered one of the finest feats in French Gothic architecture. For me, it seemed like a compass on my walks around the city—you would feel reoriented every time you saw its double western towers and 19th Century spire rising up into the sky.

The sad news that Notre Dame caught fire just a few weeks ago shocked me, as it did much of the world. As Australia doesn’t have western architecture as old as this, it was surreal and awful to watch its rise in flames. The reason for the fire itself is uncertain (electrical problems most probably), and the majority of the Notre Dame was luckily saved. What was destroyed will be restored within five years, thanks to over $1.44 billion dollars in donations from France’s richest families and global corporations.

What I didn’t realise was that Notre Dame was actually home to three large hives of happy bees at the time the blaze occurred! In fact, this isn’t all that unusual for Paris, but remains a relatively well-kept secret: there are actually over 700 hives kept in very iconic and notable buildings and structures around the city, such as the Grand Palais, Opéra Garnier and the Musée d’Orsay. Now, in a story of luck and good fate, the 180,000 bees living in the roof of the church made it through the disaster unscathed. According to a recent article in The Guardian, their keeper, or apiculteur, Nicolas Géant, was very relieved to find that his colonies had made it through an otherwise shocking event. Describing it as a “miracle”, the bees were located on the cathedral’s first floor and surprisingly survived!

It must have been a very tense few days for Géant, as officials would not let him enter the building and check on his hives. But after some time, officials confirmed that the bees were happy and alive, a miraculous escape for the bees of Notre Dame. Long live the bees of Paris!

This time last year, I soaked up the sun in Europe. Of all the places I travelled—and there were many favourites spots for different reasons—France was very high on my list of most-loved destinations. This was mainly due to the bee-love I experienced there. From the urban gardens and rooftops of Paris, to quaint and remote villages in the countryside, bees were living it up! A country with a famous reputation for romance, it surely won me over.

Now, Paris is a city dear to many people’s hearts. And I clearly remember seeing the incredible Notre Dame for the first time and being completely amazed. Notre-Dame de Paris (or, “Our Lady of Paris”) is a medieval Catholic Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary and considered one of the finest feats in French Gothic architecture. For me, it seemed like a compass on my walks around the city—you would feel reoriented every time you saw its double western towers and 19th Century spire rising up into the sky.

The sad news that Notre Dame caught fire just a few weeks ago shocked me, as it did much of the world. As Australia doesn’t have western architecture as old as this, it was surreal and awful to watch its rise in flames. The reason for the fire itself is uncertain (electrical problems most probably), and the majority of the Notre Dame was luckily saved. What was destroyed will be restored within five years, thanks to over $1.44 billion dollars in donations from France’s richest families and global corporations.

What I didn’t realise was that Notre Dame was actually home to three large hives of happy bees at the time the blaze occurred! In fact, this isn’t all that unusual for Paris, but remains a relatively well-kept secret: there are actually over 700 hives kept in very iconic and notable buildings and structures around the city, such as the Grand Palais, Opéra Garnier and the Musée d’Orsay. Now, in a story of luck and good fate, the 180,000 bees living in the roof of the church made it through the disaster unscathed. According to a recent article in The Guardian, their keeper, or apiculteur, Nicolas Géant, was very relieved to find that his colonies had made it through an otherwise shocking event. Describing it as a “miracle”, the bees were located on the cathedral’s first floor and surprisingly survived!

It must have been a very tense few days for Géant, as officials would not let him enter the building and check on his hives. But after some time, officials confirmed that the bees were happy and alive, a miraculous escape for the bees of Notre Dame. Long live the bees of Paris!

The Lucky Bees of Notre Dame

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