I won’t refer to them as 180,000 Phoenixes rising from the ashes, but something rather heart-lifting happened after the devastating fire that destroyed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral.
It was found that the three hives of bees, part of a collection that the French have placed on historic buildings throughout the city to combat the dwindling numbers of colonies, had indeed survived.
Residing in wooden hives a scant hundred feet from the burning roof and directly below the cathedral’s iconic rose window, had the temperature reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the wax would have melted, gluing the bees together with all inhabitants perishing.
Nicolas Géant, the keeper of the bees, told the Associated Press, “Instead of killing them, the CO2 (from the smoke) makes them drunk, puts them to sleep.”
And because bees, like most insects in general, don’t have lungs, they’re not at the same risk of smoke damage as are humans. As a matter of fact, smoke has been used for centuries to suppress bees by keepers extracting honey.
It must have been an agonizing wait during which 400 firefighters battled the blaze for hours, but a satellite view later showed the hives were unscathed. The confirmation of their survival came, according to Geant, when he received a phone call from Notre Dame spokesman, Andre Finot, who reported the bees were flying in and out of the hives.
“I won’t call it a miracle,” Geant stated, “but I am very, very happy.”
It was difficult to express the heartache of watching the flames devouring the hallowed structure, and I’m not ashamed to admit tears spilled as I watched, with the rest of the world on live television, the steeple collapsing and crashing to earth.
I’ve never visited Notre Dame, but when one considers it took nearly 200 years to complete, the realization dawns that this gothic masterpiece was more than the offering of just one generation of people, but the dedication of several. The devotion of those countless hands and hearts is instilled, I would dare say, within the very DNA of the French.
Such a revelation it is to grasp that the bees, whose own single-mindedness in continuing to pollinate not only represents their survival, but results in creating sustenance for our very own.
A miracle indeed.