JUST TOO COOL: Fr. Z kudos to Our Lady’s Bees! They survived the fire #NDParis


“All of you who stand fast in the Lord are a holy seed, a new colony of bees, the very flower of our ministry and fruit of our toil, my joy and my crown.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

From Crux:

Drunk on smoke: Notre Dame’s bees survive cathedral blaze

PARIS – Hunkered down in their hives and drunk on smoke, Notre Dame’s smallest official residents – some 180,000 bees – somehow managed to survive the inferno that consumed the cathedral’s ancient wooden roof.

Confounding officials who thought they had perished, the bees clung to life, protecting their queen.

“It’s a big day. I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn,” Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant told The Associated Press on Friday.

“Instead of killing them, the CO2 (from smoke) makes them drunk, puts them to sleep,” he explained.  [Sobria ebrietas?]

Geant has overseen the bees since 2013, when three hives were installed on the roof of the stone sacristy that joins the south end of the monument.

The undersigned, on 26 Nov 2018 in the sacristy of Notre-Dame in Paris vesting for a Requiem Mass for Bp. Morlino in the Chapel of the Crown of Thorns.

The move was part of a Paris-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers. Hives were also introduced above Paris’s gilded Opera.

The cathedral’s hives were lower than Notre Dame’s main roof and the 19th-century spire that burned and collapsed during Monday evening’s fire.

Since bees don’t have lungs, they can’t die from smoke inhalation – but they can die from excessive heat. European bees, unlike some bee species elsewhere, don’t abandon their hives when facing danger. [Did not know that.]

“When bees sense fire, they gorge themselves on honey and stay to protect their queen, who doesn’t move,” Geant said. “I saw how big the flames were, so I immediately thought it was going to kill the bees. Even though they were nearly 100 feet lower than the top roof, the wax in the hives melts at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.”

If the wax that protects their hive melts, the bees simply die inside, Geant explained.

Smoke, on the other hand, is innocuous. Beekeepers regularly smoke out the hives to sedate the colony whenever they need access inside. The hives produce around 165 pounds of honey annually, which is sold to Notre Dame employees.

Notre Dame officials saw the bees on top of the sacristy Friday, buzzing in and out of their hives.

“I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but I’m very, very happy,” Geant added.

Fr. Z kudos to Our Lady’s Bees!

Those of you who attend the Vigil tonight will hear of the bees during the Exsultet.


I was just informed about a cocktail which would be a worthy Easter way to celebrate Our Lady’s Bees survival.

Make yourself a “Bees Knees”!

From Saveur:


For the honey syrup:
1 cup honey
1?3 cup hot water

For the cocktail:
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3?4 oz. honey syrup
2 oz. gin, preferably Beefeater (well… I dunno)

Make the honey syrup: In a container, combine honey and hot water and stir until completely mixed. Use immediately or store and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

In a shaker tin, combine fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, gin, and ice.
Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. OssaSola says:

    People are already telling me they are “past their grief” over the burning of Notre Dame. I am decidedly NOT over it; it will forever color the Easter triduum for me. But have me a glad smile, many thanks!

  2. OssaSola says:

    Correction: “But this gave me a glad smile…

  3. SKAY says:

    Another positive story Father Z. Thank you. It is nice to know the bees survived.

  4. jaykay says:

    Great news. I do remember Fr. Z. rejoicing, exulting, even, back in 2011, with the new (sorry, proper) translations of the N.O. Exultet, that the bees had been reinstated.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    That is delightful about the bees, it is super happy news, thank you for it. A blessed and happy easter to you and all, Fr. Z.

  6. KAS says:

    All our honey bees are European. We use smoke not because it makes them drunk but because it triggers an instinctive response to smoke warning of a coming fire. The bees are so busy preparing for a possible evacuation that they ignore the beekeeper.

    Bees will gorge on honey in preparation for evacuating the queen. If the smoke continues to thicken, they will then fly the queen, surrounding her, away from the smoke and before the fire gets to them; returning to the hive after the fire if the scouts find the hive is still safe.

    I think the reporter did not know bees.

    [This is very cool stuff. I think God wrote something amazing into bees which must, over time, teach us many things. Consider their role in our worship. Consider that their honey never goes bad.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  7. JustaSinner says:

    Can Mass still be offered in the Notre Dame Cathedral in a state of burned distress?

  8. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    I’m with you – I reckon Beefeater could work in a pinch, but something more aromatic seems appropriate. Maybe St. George Botanivore.

    Happy Easter, Father!

  9. dcntodd says:

    My preference would be for Tanqueray #10! The fresh smell and flavor of Juniper to go with the honey and lemon.

  10. dcntodd says: Tanqueray #10

    Good option!

Comments are closed.