World Stamps

Three U.N. souvenir sheets honor World Bee Day

May 20, 2019, 9 AM

By Denise McCarty

The United Nations Postal Administration is celebrating World Bee Day, May 20, with the release of three souvenir sheets featuring bees and flowers.

Each souvenir sheet contains a single stamp showing a photograph of a bee and part of a flower on a black background.

The souvenir sheet for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City depicts a diphaglossine bee, Cadeguala occidentalis, on the $3 stamp.

Part of the flower yellow fumewort (Corydalis flavula), also known as yellow harlequin and yellow corydalis, also is shown on the stamp, as well as in the selvage of the souvenir sheet.

Other images in the selvage include a honeycomb pattern on the left side and a silhouette of a bee above the words “World Bee Day” in the upper right. The scientific name of the flower and the bee are inscribed at lower right.

A South American bee, Bombus dahlbomii, is pictured on the 2.60-franc stamp in the souvenir sheet for use from the post office at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Because of its large size (up to 1.5 inches in length), this bumblebee has been called “the flying mouse.”

The flower featured is Lobelia cardinalis. Commonly called the cardinal flower, it is a member of the bellflower family.

On this souvenir sheet, the scientific names are in the upper right, while the bee silhouette and World Bee Day inscription in French (Journee mondiale des abeilles) are below the stamp.

The souvenir sheet with a 2.70 stamp for use from the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, is inscribed “Weltbienentag,” German for World Bee Day, in the lower right.

Text in the upper right identifies the flower as Scutellaria lateriflora and the bee as Melissodes communis.

Scutellaria lateriflora, an herb sometimes used in traditional medicine, has various common names including blue skullcap and American skullcap.

As is evident in the photo shown on the stamp, Melissodes communis is a long-horned bee.

Rorie Katz of the United Nations designed the stamps using photos provided by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center of the United States Geological Survey.

In his welcome statement online (, John French, the director of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, described it as “the nation’s first laboratory dedicated to wildlife research.”

Lowe-Martin Group of Canada printed the souvenir sheets by offset lithography in the following quantities: 18,000 $3; 19,000 2.60fr; and 21,000 2.70.

The stamps measure 50 millimeters by 35mm each, and the souvenir sheets are 110mm by 70mm.

In December 2017, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution proclaiming May 20 as World Bee Day. Slovenia led the initiative for this resolution “to raise public awareness about the importance of bees and other pollinators and the need to protect their natural habitat,” according to the UNPA.

May 20 was selected for the annual World Bee Day observance to coincide with the birth anniversary of Anton Jansa, a pioneer of modern apiculture. He was born in 1734 in Carniola, now part of Slovenia.

For ordering information for the World Bee Day souvenir sheets, visit the UNPA website; send an email to; telephone 212-963-7684, or 800-234-8672; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.

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