Recently a man in Surrey, David Martin, was renovating his fireplace when he discovered the remains of the World War II carrier pigeon and the 70-year-old message, from Sergeant W Stott, it was carrying.
Apparently the messages pigeons carried were usually written longhand but this one was in code which makes people think it was an important one. It is now being decoded by Government Communication Headquarters so they will know if it was hugely important soon enough.
I looked for a carrier pigeon article to accompany this bit of news and found many, many stories of lost birds, half-eaten birds and exhausted birds. Then I found this one and had to share it with you.
In 1900 a West Country farmer had the brilliant idea of using something to carry messages that was harder to shoot than a pigeon. Bees. Hmmm… Granted, it would be harder for the opposition to take out a carrier bee but I can think of a few problems with the idea.
Firstly, do bees taken far from their hives (as opposed to flying themselves away) actually have the ability to get home safely?
Secondly, what about the size of the message? I can imagine that the messages attached to the leg of a pigeon would be by necessity quite small, but the micro photography message that the farmer was gumming to the backs of these bees would have to be microscopic!
Thirdly, surely the bee would (assuming it made it home) zoom straight into the hive for a well-deserved rest, wouldn’t it? How on earth do they get the message back? Dismantle the hive each night and check every individual bee for glued-on messages?
I am sure that you guys can imagine other difficulties the intended recipient would have in parting the delivery bee from his message, so please share!
The only thing that would probably never happen is that one of the bees would be found still with its message intact 70 years later! 🙂