If Virginia’s for Lovers, Virgin Islands are for Bees

Bees St. John and the Virgin Islands have plenty of sunshine but few outlets for agriculture, says Kathryn Wagner, a photographer on the island.

"An island-wide beekeeping initiative has struck residents as an answer to the lack of locally produced goods," she wrote on her blog.

"Beekeeping and bee farming are agricultural activities that have low impact on the land, and do not require much space to become profitable small businesses. The bees will not only help to support the farmers, but also support the ecosystem of the National Park."

Over the winter, Wagner chronicled a 10-week class in beekeeping, attended by many locals, "who have gone on to begin raising their own hives. My hopes are with the many beekeepers that local honey, candles and beauty products – not to mention a new industry -  will soon become available as a result of a beekeeper's efforts."

Pigs fly

Pigs fly 1Gov "On Tuesday, Governor deJongh convened a meeting of his cabinet to provide an overview of the current fiscal condition of the territory

"The Governor and Director Gottlieb detailed for the cabinet members some potential initiatives that may be implemented to ease the government’s cash crunch including the implementation of an absolute hiring freeze on May 1 and freezing existing salaries of all Executive branch personnel.

“I had a frank discussion with the union leaders about the state of the territory’s financial health as we begin to craft our budget for the new fiscal year.”

  • Details of the Governor's cabinet meeting here

Virgin Islands photog swims with the fishes

Simonsen_turtle The Virgin Island's Steve Simonsen has made an international reputation for himself specializing in marine photography

The St. John resident's underwater images of divers, coral reefs, and fish have been published in magazines including Caribbean Travel & Life, Scuba Diving and Sport Diver.  His work is also on display in his book, Living Art.

Recently, Simonsen's been drawn to video projects, one of which will be shown in rough cut at the Marketplace Thursday night.  He will talk about the experience of making the film "Leatherbacks of St. Croix."

Livingartt The documentary focuses on the conservation of Leatherback sea turtles at Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge on St Croix. Working alongside members of the Fish and Wildlife Service and The West Indies Marine Animal Research and Conservation Service, Steve hopes the film will help raise awareness of the endangered creatures to help protect, recover and sustain the threatened and endangered marine animals of the West Indies.

Leatherbacks is one of two projects being shown at St. John Film Society's Free Movie Night Thursday.  The other chronicles diminishing 'spawning schools' in the VI's. Fishermen are struggling to preserve their livelihoods, and scientists from the University of the Virgin Islands are racing to understand how to restore and maintain fish populations across the Caribbean.

New VI park for Coral Bay

Pr37carolina Ernest Marsh once owned all of Estate Carolina, i.e. most of Coral Bay.

The National Park Service explains, "Established in 1717, Estate Carolina was the first and wealthiest sugar estate on St. John Island." A Bay Rum factory in the plantation is pictured here.

On his death, Marsh's five children inherited the land.  The family Trust has now proposed the Virgin Islands turn 170 acres of it, near the water, into a Territorial park, according to a story in the St. John Source.

Word of the offer came at this week's groundbreaking for a watershed project in Coral Bay.

Sen. Craig Barshinger said the Legislature will be asked to contribute 25 percent of the cost of designing the park and acquiring the land.  The balance of the money, hopefully, will be raised through private contributions made to the Conservation Fund, the Source reported. (Read the Source!  Excellent source of info about all three islands.)

The proposed park is near where the Marsh family heirs plan a mixed residential/commercial development.

The Inquiring Iguana did a bit of rooting around on Google and found a link to a story about an Ernest Marsh, a painter of St. John.  Might be the same patriarch.