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180,000 Buzzing Paris Residents Are Safe And Secure After Notre Dame Fire

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A week ago the world was watching as Notre Dame Cathedral burned.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

While the spire fell and the wooden roof was destroyed, no one was killed. And that includes some 180,000 winged residents of Notre Dame.

QUENTIN GEANT: (Speaking French).

SHAPIRO: "The bees of Notre Dame survived the fire."

CORNISH: Says Quentin Geant - he's the executive manager of Beeopic California. His firm rents bees, including those on the roof of the Notre Dame's stone vestry. And his father, Nicolas, is the beekeeper there.

SHAPIRO: Because of a declining bee population, the city of Paris pushed to have more hives in the city.

GEANT: Notre Dame has been a really proud owner of this hive since 2013 because, also, the Catholic Church has been some of the biggest beekeepers all throughout history because of the candle they needed.

SHAPIRO: Not only the candles they needed, but there's also all that honey.

CORNISH: The Geants, father and son, were concerned when they watched TV coverage of Notre Dame burning.

GEANT: We knew our bees will be there, and we could not do anything.

SHAPIRO: That was last Monday. The next day, there was a sign of hope.

GEANT: My dad could see on the pictures from the satellite that the three hives were still standing.

SHAPIRO: A couple days later, church officials told the senior Geant that bees were alive and even sent out a video. Because of the continuing danger and the fire investigation, the beekeeper has not been able to get to see the hives in person.

CORNISH: That these bees survived a huge fire doesn't seem like such a miracle to Quentin Geant.

GEANT: They don't have the same kind of lungs than us. And we have been using smoke of beekeeping when we keep our bees since hundreds of years, so they're kind of used to it. That's the good news and the magic of it.

SHAPIRO: Magic, indeed. The bees are OK with smoke, but if the heat from the fire had gotten above 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the wax of the hive would have melted, and the bees would not have been able to survive.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.