Monday, August 24, 2015

Bees – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The new Royal Mail First Day Cover is dedicated to bees. The earliest known fossil bee was trapped in resin leaking from an ancient tree – and hence became preserved in amber some 100 million years ago. At the time, life on earth was dominated by dinosaurs, and our own ancestors were scurrying, rat-like creatures. Prior to this, there were few flowers; most plants relied on wind for pollination, as grasses and pine trees do to this day.

With the arrival of insect pollinators, plants evolved pretty flowers to attract them, and so the world burst into bloom. Honeybees transfer pollen between male and female plants, enabling fertilisation and reproduction.
Bees evolved from wasps, which are predatory creatures. The first bee was essentially a wasp turned vegetarian: it chose to feed its offspring on pollen and nectar rather than on insect prey. That ancestral bee must have thrived, for it gave rise to the many different kinds of bees that we see in the world today.

Interestingly enough, bees are particularly attracted to purple, yellow and blue flowers. In the United Kingdom there are 25 bumblebee species, 1 honeybee species and 240 species of solitary bees. Bees have three simple eyes and two large compound eyes, which are composed of thousands of individual units. The buzzing of bees is often the result of rapid wing movements, which create wind vibrations. Honeybees can fly between 15 and 22 miles an hour. 

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