Liechtenstein: Rare Bees and Wasps


Within the Insecta class bees and wasps (Aculeata) are among the Hymenoptera the females which possess a defensive sting. Of them there are however in Liechtenstein not only “the” bee, by which people generally mean the honey bee, or “the” wasp, which is our name for the paper wasp – there exists in fact a whole multiplicity of families. Altogether over 400 species of bees and wasps are found in Liechtenstein.

The “Bees and Wasps” series of stamps seeks to direct attention to three less familiar representatives of our native bee and wasp species and thus also to highlight their magnificent species diversity and contribute to their protection. Among them is the wormseedmustard mason bee (Osmia brevicornis) (face-value CHF 0.85), which belongs to the bee (Apidae) family. In Liechtenstein it is found on Ruggell’s Rhine embankment (430 metres a.s.l.), where it prefers secondary unfertilised meadows and the landfill site on the outer side of the embankment and nests in decaying wood. The metallic-blue lustre of its body and its rust-red scopa make this specialist on cruciferae pollen – which is on the “endangered” list – very easily recognisable. 

The cleptoparasitic bee (Epeoloides coecutiens), one of the cuckoo bees, (face-value CHF 1.00) and endowed with a striking reddish coloration and emerald-green eyes, is likewise encountered only extremely rarely; in Liechtenstein it is seen at Schwabbrünnen in Schaan (445 metres a.s.l.), a low-lying marsh with dry ruderal areas by the railway track. The rare spiny mason or chimney-maker wasp (Odynerus spinipes) (face-value CHF 1.30) is found in two places in Liechtenstein: in the Ell valley in Balzers (500 – 720 metres a.s.l.), and at Sareis, Triesenberg (1,600–2,000 metres a.s.l.). 

This representative of the solitary paper wasps seeks out loess and clay walls exposed to the sun and prefers snoutbeetle larvae for feeding its own larvae.

The stamps showing the three rare bees and wasps have been designed by the Liechtenstein graphic artist Silvia Ruppen.

Taken from: Philatelie Liechtenstein, Ausgabe Juni 2008

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