Buzz slow to grow for bee stamps

JOANNE BENNETT
Last updated 15:42 18/07/2013
bee stamps

PRAISE BEE: Industrious insects get the stamp of approval.

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New Zealand Post has released a new set of stamps in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand.

There have been mixed responses to the stamps since their release on Wednesday.

There has not been much interest at the Highfield Gift and Postshop but they have been selling well at the Village Post in Temuka.

Pearce Bennett of Northtown PostShop, said there has not yet been much interest in the stamps, but he is expecting some from stamp collectors by the end of the week.

The Honey Bees stamp issue recognises the key role honey bees have had in New Zealand horticulture for more than 150 years - pollinating essential crops and producing up to 12,000 tonnes of honey a year, with as much as half of that being exported.

The 70c stamp depicts the first step in making honey - the gathering of nectar - a task carried out by field bees which fly from flower to flower using their long tongues to extract nectar.

The field bees store that nectar in their honey sacs, which can weigh almost as much as the bee itself when full. The honey sacs contain enzymes which break down the complex sugars of the nectar into simpler sugars.

The $1.40 stamp shows field bees returning to the hive - where they empty the nectar from their sacs into the cells in the honeycomb nearest to the entrance.

A single hive can house thousands of honey bees, mostly workers - plus the queen bee.

The $1.90 stamp shows young worker house bees transferring nectar to the honey storage area inside the hive.

Enzymes are added to the nectar, which is then further concentrated by house bees fanning their wings to create an air current which dries the nectar into honey.

Once the honey has a water content lower than 20 per cent the bees seal off the cell in the honeycomb with a wax cap.

The $2.40 stamp shows beekeepers removing the combs from the hives to harvest the honey.

These combs are spun in a centrifuge to separate the honey without damaging the hives or hurting the bees.

The fifth and final stamp in the set - valued at $2.90 - shows a block of pure honey - which is then processed and packaged into the familiar jars and pottles we see on supermarket shelves.

The five gummed stamps are also available as a collectable miniature sheet, as first day covers and in a special presentation pack.

SOUTH CANTERBURY HERALD

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- South Canterbury

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