PARIS (NBC News) – Hunkered down in their hives, some 180,000 bees managed to survive the inferno that consumed Notre Dame Cathedral’s ancient wooden roof last week.
Confounding officials thought they had perished, but the bees clung to life, protecting their queens.
In 2013, three hives were installed on the roof of a stone room that joins the south end of the monument. The move was part of a Paris-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers.
Hives were also introduced on rooftops of some of the most famous buildings in Paris, including The Opéra Garnier and Musée d’Orsay.
The cathedral’s hives were lower than Notre Dame’s main roof and the 19th-century spire that burned and collapsed on the April 15 fire.
Since bees don’t have lungs, they can’t die from smoke inhalation, but they can die from excessive heat.
And European bees, unlike some bee species elsewhere, don’t abandon their hives when facing danger.