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Royal Mail Issues Special Stamps Illustrating The Beauty Of British Bees

Royal Mail today launched a set of 10 Special Stamps that celebrate the UK’s bee populations. The stamps feature illustrated images of various bee species from across the UK including two bumblebees – the Great yellow and Bilberry.

New research commissioned by Royal Mail finds that although people care about the nation’s bee population, there is very little knowledge about them in general. Over half of people questioned (53%) could not name any type of bee – despite nearly 87% saying they care about the bee population in the UK.

Findings also discovered that only 3% of people were aware there are around 250 species of bee living in the UK, with the majority (71%) believing there were fewer than 20. Nevertheless, over half (56%) said they did try to encourage bees into their garden by planting bee-friendly plant varieties.

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Florally transmitted diseases (FTDs): a newly discovered threat to bee communities.

New research led by award winning scientist Dr Peter Graystock at the University of Leeds, in collaboration with Professor William Hughes and Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, shows that diseased bees deposit parasites on to the flowers they visit. These parasites can then infect healthy bees visiting the same flowers, or be transported by an unsusceptible bee species to other flowers to reach their host species.

In a neatly designed experiment, the researchers allowed bumblebees from hives infected with three different bumblebee diseases to forage on a patch of flowers in a flight cage for a period of 3 hours before removing them from the cage. They then released disease-free honey bees into the cage and allowed them to forage for a further 3 hours on the same flowers, as well as a patch of uncontaminated flowers which were brought in at the same time. Immediately afterwards, the shared flower patch, the honeybee only flower patch and the honey bees were all screened for the bumblebee parasites with alarming results. All three of the parasites were detected on the shared flowers, while two out of three were detected on the flowers which only the honeybees had access to, as well as inside the honeybee colonies.

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