Royal mail issued a special stamps and miniature sheet featuring Beautiful Bees of Britain, to educate and to create awareness about their vital importance.
Bees are our unacknowledged partners and ancient allies, vital in the pollination of food crops, keeping farms in business and in helping parks, gardens and the countryside to thrive.
Beautiful Bees of Britain
The stamps feature illustrated images of various bee species from across the UK.
Royal Mail worked closely with Simon G. Potts, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at Reading University to produce a set of stamps that feature the Scabious Bee, Great Yellow Bumblebee, Northern Colletes Bee, Bilberry Bumblebee, Large Mason Bee and the Potter Flower Bee.
There are around 250 species of bee that live and reproduce in the UK.
Honeybees live in well organised colonies that do not need to hibernate over the winter, with a single queen ‘ruling’ up to 35,000 individuals.
They produce honey (from plant nectar) and store it in a wax comb. In the colony there will be thousands of female workers and a few hundred male drones. These bees are most commonly those farmed in hives.
There are currently 24 species of Bumblebee in the UK. Each has large, round furry bodies and are social, living in nests of up to 400 individuals.
Bumblebees do not swarm and are generally not aggressive – only the females sting if threatened.
There are more than 220 species of solitary bees, which live in small nests in bare soil, wood or masonry. They tend to live in pairs, although there may be many living in an area.
There are three kinds of solitary bee in the UK – mining bees (which live in underground nests); and mason and leaf cutter bees that live in horizontal holes (with leaf-cutter bees using leaves to line the nest).
Insects pollinate 78% of flowering plants. They transfer pollen from the male to the female parts of flowers and so affect fertilization and the setting of seeds.
This is essential for biodiversity, providing food and shelter for other insects, mammals and birds. Many wild plants are pollinated by a limited range of bees. If these bees become rare the plants may be in danger of dying out.
UK bees pollinate apples, oilseed rape, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, runner & dwarf beans, avocados, aubergine, sweet peppers, cucumber, pumpkin, basil among many more.
The miniature sheet includes four stamps showing the life and importance of the Honeybee.
The waggle dance communicates the direction and distance to flowers yielding nectar and pollen.
Honeybees transfer pollen between male and female plants, enabling fertilisation and reproduction.
Honeybees transform nectar into honey and store it in wax honeycombs.
Larvae are fed royal jelly for three days; those fed for longer become new queens.
Title: Beautiful Bees of Britain
Date of Issue: 18 August 2015
Country: Great Britain
Denominations: 2nd, 1st, £1.00, £1.33, £1.52, £2.25 MS: 1st x 2, £1.33 x 2
Source: Royal Mail