Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks
Bees of Britain - 18 August 2015
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. Yet bees are
in decline in their numbers and their range. The plight of bees is
in the press every week.
Royal Mail is issuing these stamps to educate customers
and mail senders and receivers about the huge variety of
British bees, their vital importance and to promote moves for bee
Mail is not promoting any particular conservation organisation
in connection with this issue, but if you are interested in
bee species and their identification, and bee conservation
visit the Bee
Cause website of Friends of the Earth.
2nd class - Scabious Bee,
1st class - Great Yellow Bumblebee, £1 - Northern Coletes Bee.
£1.33 - Bilberry Bumblebee, £1.52 - Large Mason Bee, £2.25
- Potter Flower Bee.
The western Honeybee. 1st class:
Waggle Dance and Pollination; £1.33: Making Honey and Tending
Retail booklet of 4 x 1st class red
Machin definitive stamps (security coded M15l MCIL) and 2 x 1st
class Great Yellow Bumblebee stamps.
Booklet cylinder numbers are W1, left to right:
cyan, magenta, yellow, Royal Mail red,
iridescent, gold, black, and phosphor.
As well as the Queen's head and value on the stamps,
the selvedge is also gold, with underlying orange/brown
shaded to the foot of the booklet.
The six UK bee species chosen for
the sheet stamps give representation of all parts of the UK, different
habitats and the different kinds of bee species that breed in the UK (two
bumblebee species and four ‘solitary’ bees). Each bee is shown on or near a
flower appropriate for the species of bee. The miniature sheet
is devoted to the honey bee.
The stamps in detail
Scabious Bee (Andrena
hattorfiana) – 2nd Class - Shown on Field Scabious Knautia
One of the largest solitary bees and a ‘mining bee’. Has declined in range
but today South West England is key area. Other populations in East Anglia
and South Wales. Lives in sandy or open grassland, and the plant field
scabious is essential, as its pollen is used to feed the young larvae. This
reinforces the connection between insect and plant, and the interdependence.
If populations of one falls, the other suffers decline.
Great Yellow Bumblebee (Bombus
distinguendus) - 1st Class - Shown on Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus
A flagship conservation species for Scotland and at extreme of range now
(thought to have declined from 80% of its historic range in the UK). Forages
in grassland on clover, vetch and knapweed.
Northern Colletes Bee (Colletes
floralis) - £1.00 - Shown on Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)
Recorded in Northern Ireland in 2003 for the first time in 70 years. UK and
Irish population represent 50% of global total, so very important. Prefers
sandy/coastal environment and forages on range of flowers including carrot
and parsley family.
Bilberry Bumblebee (Bombus
monticola) - £1.33 - Shown on Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Concentrated in NE England but also in Wales and SW England. Higher altitude
habitats. Forages on bilberry as well as bramble, raspberry, bell heather,
sallow and legumes such as clover and bird’s foot trefoil (hence vital in
pollinating nitrogen-fixing plants in agriculture).
Large Mason Bee (Osmia
xanthomelana) - £1.52 - Shown on Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis
Britain’s rarest solitary bee and now found only at two sites in Wales.
Females collect fresh water from cliffs and use to make mud in the building
of nest cells. Forage nectar from horse shoe vetch, bramble and bugle.
Potter Flower Bee (Anthophora
retusa) - £1.33 - Shown on Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
Has declined severely and found in few sites in SE England. A ‘flower bee’
that has appearance of a bumble bee but is solitary. Has a preference for
sandy soils such as dunes, cliffs and commons. Forages from ground ivy,
vetches, clovers, bird’s foot trefoil.
The Honeybee miniature sheet focuses on the Western honeybee, Apis
mellifera, and portray different aspects of apian behaviour: the
waggle dance, pollinating, making honey and tending young. A decorative
border showing different kinds of flowers completes the miniature sheet.
Bees need pollen for protein and nectar for carbohydrate. Bees feed pollen
to their larvae for growth. Honeybees turn nectar into honey by adding
enzymes and evaporating the moisture. A honeybee colony may need 120kg of
nectar a year to maintain itself through the winter. In its life a honeybee
may produce one teaspoonful of honey and fly 800km. A single honey bee may
visit 1500 flowers to collect a single load of pollen.
A honeybee’s antennae are 100 times more sensitive to smell than a human.
Each eye is made up of 6900 hexagonal cells that can act independently,
monitoring light levels and colours and noting position of the sun. They can
see in polarised light and so can locate the sun through clouds, and also
see in ultraviolet light and hence patterns on flower petals that guide them
in to the nectar source.
A returning forager can tell its sisters as to the location of a good pollen
and nectar source. First its sisters smell and taste the nectar on the
returning bee. Then she shakes her abdomen in the ‘waggle dance’ walking up
and down the face of the comb. The amount of shake indicates the flying time
the food source is away: the longer the shake the further the distance. Then
the dancer can indicate the direction of the food. The bee will’s
orientation as it moves forwards and backwards tells the other bees the
angle to fly in relation to the sun.
The 37 x 35 mm stamps were designed by Anna Ekelund using illustrations by
. The perf 14 x 14½ stamps are printed by International
Security Printers in Lithography. The PVA-gummed stamps are printed
in sheets of 25/50.
The 179 x 74 mm Miniature Sheet was designed by Interabang using
illustrations by Amdy English, and contains 37 x 35 mm stamps perforated
14 x 14½ printed by International Security Printers in Lithography.
All stamp images Royal
©2015 reproduced with permission.
Products available from Royal Mail
Set of 6 stamps, miniature sheet.
Presentation Pack containing set and miniature sheet
Set of 11 stamp cards Two First Day Covers
Special first day of issue postmarks will be shown here. These
cannot be obtained after the date of issue; more may be added. Not
always to scale.
Official Bureau postmark
St Bees official first day of issue postmark
St Bees non-pictorial first day postmark.
The British Beekeepers Association, Kenilworth
Honeysuckle Close, Birmingham
Celebrating Bees, St Bees.
Collect British Stamps,York
Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Stirling
Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Stirling
|Ref L13527 Wax
Chandlers Hall, Gresham Street, London EC2V
Busy as a bee can be, Hive Brough
I'd like to be a busy little bee, Workington
Joney Bee, St Bees
Friends of the Earth The Bee Cause
England, Wales & N. Ireland
London GBFDC Association
|Reserved for possible further
postmarks (although this seems unlikely)
Dungeness, Romney Marsh
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This page updated 7 August 2015.