Royalmail have brought out a series of stamps showing different kinds of bees. The presentation pack includes a lot of information about bees, including short articles on rare bees: the Scabious Bee, the Great Yellow and the Bilberry Bumblebee, the Northern Colletes Bee, the Large Mason Bee and the Potter Flower Bee.
The variety and importance of bees
Many people erroneously think that there is just one species of bee, which lives in a hive and produces honey. In fact, there are over 19,500 known species, almost all of them wild creatures that go largely unnoticed by humans. There are bumblebees, leaf-cutter bees, carpenter bees, mason bees, mining bees, orchid bees, stingless bees and many more, all of them pollinators of plants and all important in their unique ways.
Some bees live in social groups with a queen and workers, including honeybees and bumblebees, but many are solitary species. In those cases, the female individually builds a small nest in which to lay her eggs, in a particular place such as a hole in a tree or a burrow in the soil. Some bees even nest inside abandoned snail shells.
Many wild bees are important crop pollinators. Together with domestic honeybees, they pollinate three-quarters of the crop species we grow in the world and account for roughly one in every three mouthfuls of food we consume. Without bees, we would have no tomatoes, no coffee, no strawberries, courgettes, peppers or blueberries and much, much more.