February 2017 saw the release of the Friendly Bees stamp. Colin has woven a background story about a species of bee, identified by the heart-shaped pattern on its thorax, which is indigenous to Isle of Vue. The humming of the wings is aid to ignite the pangs of love in the hearts of the visitors to the island. The stamp itself shows the bee on a flower, but the story is reflected in the motifs featured on the covers, with a young man and woman, both employees of the Laernu Post Office, who are brought together by the Friendly Bees. The bees force them into each others arms, meeting up at the post office’s ornamental beehive. This year there were four variant stamps with deliberate design differences. There is a one variant stamp on the sheet, but it is so subtle it wouldn’t show up illustrated in this here!
However there is a mirrored bee image and a mirrored frame variant, and one showing the El Zeebub Bee. This similar looking species, with a grinning skull replacing the heart, can switch off its hum and will sting anybody trying to break up a pair of lovers. The full issue includes covers with a normal and sheet variant stamps, an artwork proof sheet, a colour trials sheet, and copies of the background research papers - only reading these is hampered by them being folded into an origami bee! The Valentines card shows a heart-shaped bee’s nest and includes a tęte-bęche pairing of stamps. All this implies printings of different sheets with these specialised stamps, which unfortunately are likely to be beyond the reach of collectors! A nice touch is the linking back to the 2013 Vier-loben Clover stamps; the Friendly Bee’s favourite flowers.
What to look out for in this issue?
- The three variants pictured with the common stamp above
- See if you can spot the sport on the sheet without any help or hints
- The origami be
- Anything not listed above!
The Friendly Bee’s nest and waggle dance