Notre-dame de paris

From the Palace of the Popes in Avignon to Notre-Dame in Paris; French urban bees have their day

As the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral fell in flames last April, many focused on the tragedy of losing part of one of the world’s best-known historical monuments. Some, however, quickly turned their attention to 200,000 bees living in hives on its roof wondering if they would survive. It’s a growing trend to take care of bees on the roofs of French monuments and the latest is the Palais des Papes in Avignon.

Bees have been living in the Palais des Papes since March

Last May, some 40,000 bees were moved to their new home in the St Laurent Tower, part of the historic Palais des Papes in Avignon, southern France. The Palace of the Popes is the largest medieval Gothic palace in the world, built throughout the 14th century by successive popes who displaced the papacy from Rome due to internal fighting. Avignon remained the seat of Catholic power until it was transferred to Italy in 1403 after two sieges and a huge crack in the church.

This week the papal bees produced their first honey

30 kg of “Palace Honey” have been harvested this week, the first of what should lead to 150 kg each year from 2020. For the chief beekeeper, Thierry Azzolin, it is a good result after only six months and very hot weather, which posed a huge challenge. quoted in ProvenceAzzolin is convinced that rural bees should be brought to cities because of the pesticides found in the countryside.

Urban bees are the future. In Avignon, there are no pesticides, the city gardens ensure diversity, and the bee will always have its place.

Thierry Azzolin, beekeeper at the Palais des Papes, Avignon

The mayor of Avignon, Cécile Helle, declared that “it was a symbolic day when it was only about the first harvest” because it was a great day for the protection of the biodiversity of the city for the future generations.

… and the bees of Notre-Dame de Paris are doing well too

Each of the three hives installed on the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral, which had been there since 2013, produced 25 kg of honey each year, sold by Notre-Dame staff. Usually, at the first sign of fire, the bees gorge themselves on honey and protect their queen bee.

This species (the European bee) does not abandon its hive. They don’t have lungs but the carbon dioxide puts them to sleep.

Nicolas Géant, head beekeeper, Notre-Dame Cathedral

For the Notre-Dame beekeeper, it was an agonizing wait to see if his bees had survived the fire. quoted in Provencebeekeeper Nicolas Géant, was in despair until he discovered in satellite images after the fire went out that bees were still going in and out of hives among the charred remains.