Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Fletcher Christian's mutiny may save a honey-bee population

On the morning of April 28th, 1789, Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, who's substantive rank was that of a warrant holding Master's Mate, led the mutiny in His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty. He set the appointed commander, Lieutenant William Bligh, and 18 others, adrift. Bligh and 17 of his cast-aways completed an epic 48-day voyage to Timor.

Fletcher Christian, elected captain after the mutiny, took Bounty back to Tahiti and then on to the then uninhabited Pitcairn Island. There, Bounty was destroyed and nine of her original crew settled along with six Tahitian men and twelve Tahitian women plus one infant. The colony barely survived as the mutineers and the Tahitians engaged in murder to solve disputes.

In 1831 the descendants of the mutineers were moved off of Pitcairn Island. By 1857, many of them had moved back.

All of that is history, but if Fletcher Christian had not led the mutiny in HMAV Bounty, Pitcairn Island might not have been in a position to provide a ray of hope in an otherwise baffling situation.

Honey-bees are crucial for plant pollination and lately, for reasons no one seems to be able to pin down, bee hives are vanishing in large numbers. The name is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Coyote Angry, however, has discovered that there is at least one place on the planet where the bees have been declared healthy: Pitcairn Island, population 48.

The Pitcairners are intent on keeping their bee population healthy so have issued the following notice:

We have been asked by the Pitcairn Police & Customs Officer to make this announcement. Friends of Pitcairn and visitors to the island are asked NOT to send or bring honey, other bee products, or used hive equipment or clothing to Pitcairn. As many of you know, the Pitcairners have begun to expand their beekeeping efforts, and the island hives have recently been declared 100% free of disease. In order to keep the hives pristine, it is very important that the island not be accidentally exposed to products of bees from other areas that could contaminate the Pitcairn bee population. The Pitcairners and the bees thank you very much!
Given that honey is a major source of revenue for the Pitcairners, they seem to be taking no chances.

And they may be able to maintain one of the only healthy honey-bee populations on the planet.

No comments: