Arago: 25-cent Honeybee

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25-cent Honeybee

The 25-cent multicolored Honeybee definitive coil stamp (Scott 2281) was issued on September 2, 1988. The Honeybee stamp was the first combination-process coil stamp issued by the United States Postal Service.

The magenta, yellow, PMS yellow, black (offset), and black (intaglio) stamp was designed by Chuck Ripper and engraved at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing by Edward Archer. Initially printed on the BEP’s six-color Goebel offset Optiforma press (043) and three-color intaglio C press (901), the BEP later printed it on the six-color offset, three-color intaglio D press (902) so that the entire process could be completed in a single operation, reducing spoilage. It was distributed in coils of one hundred and 3,000.

Offset printing plates of 450 subjects and 500 subjects were used by the Optiforma press in conjunction with C press intaglio printing sleeves of, respectively, 864 subjects and 960 subjects. Offset printing plates of 432 subjects and 480 subjects were used by the D press with press intaglio printing sleeves of, respectively, 864 subjects and 960 subjects. One sleeve number appears on every 48th stamp. The coils of one hundred were perforated 10 vertically on the Goebel stroke perforator; the coils of 3,000 were perforated 10 vertically on the Huck rotary perforator.

The honeybee is the designated state insect in Arkansas (1973), North Carolina (1973), Georgia (1975), Maine (1975), Nebraska (1975), Kansas (1976), Louisiana (1977), Vermont (1977), Wisconsin (1977), South Dakota (1978), Mississippi (1980), Utah (1983), Missouri (1985), Oklahoma (1992), and West Virginia (2002). It is the state bug of New Jersey (1974) and the official agricultural insect of Tennessee (1990).

The honeybee is a colonial insect that is often maintained by beekeepers. Honeybees collect nectar and store it as honey in their hives. Nectar and honey provide the energy for the bees’ flight muscles and for heating the hive during the winter. Honeybees provide indispensable help to farmers and fruit growers by pollinating crops and fruit trees while gathering nectar among flowering plants.

A colony generally includes one breeding female ('queen'), a few thousand males ('drones'), and a large population of sterile female workers. The female workers transform from nurse bees to foragers. Foragers die usually when their wings are worn out, which takes place after approximately 500 miles of flight. Honeybee wings beat at a constant rate of 13,800 beats/minute. The population of a healthy hive in mid-summer can average between 40,000 and 80,000 bees.

References:

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1988

NETSTATE.com (http://www.netstate.com/states/tables/state_insects.htm)

Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers


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