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A New Home for the Bees at Notre Dame Cathedral

Studio NAB, a Paris-based architecture firm, has proposed a new home for Notre Dame’s bees, a giant glass apiary in the central spire. (image from Studio NAB)

There have been lots of news stories about France’s ambitious plans to rebuild the spire and roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was severely damaged by fire several weeks ago.  One proposal that caught our eye, or dare we say our antennae, is a plan by Studio NAB, a Paris-based architecture firm that proposes to create “a rooftop greenhouse that embraces the reintroduction of biodiversity, education and solidarity,” according to Architecture News.

Our favorite part of the plan is the honey-colored glass apiary that would be installed in the central spire. The concept expands on Notre Dame’s three existing rooftop hives, which were installed in spring 2013 in an effort to fight declining bee populations.

Miraculously, the bees survived the fire because they were located about 30 meters below the main roof where the fire spread, Nicolas Geant, the beekeeper, told CNN.

“They weren’t in the middle of the fire, had they been they wouldn’t have survived,” Geant told CNN. “The hives are made of wood so they would have gone up in flames.”

“Wax melts at 63 degrees, if the hive had reached that temperature the wax would have melted and glued the bees together, they would have all perished.”

“While it is likely that the hives were filled with smoke, that doesn’t impact them like it would with humans, Geant explained. “Bees don’t have lungs like us,” he said. “And secondly, for centuries to work with the bees we have used bee smokers.”

A bee smoker is a box with bellows which creates a white, thick cold smoke in the hives, prompting the bees to calmly gorge on the honey while beekeepers do their work, Geant said.

A rendering of the proposed glass apiary (image from Studio NAB)

“In homage to Notre Dame’s intricate roof structure—dubbed “The Forest” after its 1,300 ancient timber beams sourced from primal forests—Studio NAB proposes reusing salvaged framework elements as planters and furnishings in the greenhouse,” reported Dwell Magazine.

France has launched an international design competition for the reconstruction effort. French president, Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild Notre Dame in time for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

A rendering of the greenhouse proposed for the new roof of Notre Dame Cathedral (image from Studio NAB)
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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