Canada has something called ‘permanent’ stamps. We call them “P” stamps. The first ones, issued ten years ago, had a small letter P on them, next the the Queen of England’s face. P stamps have become B stamps, at least for a little while.
You pay the current price for a postage stamp (presently 85 cents) and you get a regular, business-class stamp. The stamp can be used anytime – even twenty years from now when the post office will charge three dollars to send a letter. These stamps never expire. I think the post office figures that they can use our money now, invest in high-yield bonds, and allow us to use the stamp whenever. They are also expecting some of us to lose the stamps behind the dresser. Or, in the case of the colourful new “BEE” stamps, the stamps will be kept as keepers by beekeepers and stampkeepers. Today, I used one of mine to mail my company’s quarterly Goods & Services Tax payment. My way of telling the tax folks to please buzz off.
The stamps are interesting. Colourful and comical, yet ominous in portending a future where robotic bees will do our pollinating after these bees are extinct. At least, the bumble bees on these stamps look like robotic bees to me. Nevertheless, these are “Bee” stamps, as it declares on my purchase receipt. You can decide if these images look more like robots than fuzzy buzzers, or if the artwork reflects the cubistic intent of its maker, Toronto artist Dave Murray. I’ll admit that I like the design, irregular though it may bee.
I’m not sure who made the bee species choices, but they picked Agapostemon virescens (a sweat bee) and Bombus affinis (a bumbler) to symbolize our bees. The Canadian post office didn’t use a honey bee this time. I’m happy with that decision – bumble bees and sweat bees are native Canadians while our honey bees are not. If we are doing a Canadian Bee stamp, using Canadian bees (even if the bumble bee looks robotic) is a fair choice. The bumble bee on the stamp, by the way, is the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, a species at risk and recently classified as endangered in the USA – the first bee to earn that sad designation. The Canadian post office is well aware of the significance of this bumble bee. When the stamp was released this spring, it was unveiled “in Grand Bend, Ontario, near Pinery Provincial Park – the last known location of a rusty-patched bumble bee in Canada”.
I bought 20 of these new bee stamps. A few of them will end up gathering dust among my bee stuff. I don’t know how long the Canadian post service will be selling them, so if you’re interested, head into your community office soon. If you are not in Canada, you can still get the stamp. Just send me a crisp $20 USA bill and I’ll send you a letter with TWO of the stamps on the envelope.