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Maryland Photographer Goes Postal

New stamp carries important message

      A Chesapeake Country photographer is helping to spread the word to protect pollinators in a new medium: stamps. 
     Karen Mayford, of Glen Arm, is a featured photographer on the U.S. Postal Service’s new Protect Pollinators forever stamp series. 
      Paying tribute to the beauty and importance of pollinators, the new stamps depict two of our continent’s most iconic, the monarch butterfly and the western honeybee. In five stamp designs, monarchs pollinate three native North American flowers, coneflowers, zinnia and goldenrod, and bees two, gold ragwort and New England aster. 
      “Bees, butterflies and other pollinators sustain our ecosystem and are a vital natural resource,” says the Postal Service’s Gary Shapiro. “They are being threatened, and we must protect them.”
      Mayford’s photo of a monarch on a coneflower, captured in her own backyard, “could potentially reach 60 million homes,” says spokesman Mark Saunders. That’s how many Protect Pollinators stamps were printed. 
      Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and western honeybees (Apis mellifera), both travel far and wide, much like the mail the new stamps will travel on. Monarchs can flutter thousands of miles in one of nature’s wondrous migrations, a multigenerational round-trip that can cross southern Canada, the north-south breadth of the contiguous United States and deep into Mexico, where they rest for the winter before returning north.
     Western honeybees do not naturally migrate such distances, but beekeepers truck their hives on long-haul migrations, accommodating growing seasons around the nation. These bees are far and away the continent’s most vital pollinators, servicing almond, citrus, peach, apple and cherry tree blossoms, plus the blossoms of berries, melons, cucumbers, onions and pumpkins, to name just a few. 
     Pollinators now need some human intervention to thrive. The hives of western honeybees are being raided by parasitic mites and plagued by Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious condition that disorients bees and causes them to abandon their hives. Monarch butterflies, utterly dependent on milkweed plants throughout their range and specific mountain forests in Mexico, face collapsing populations as these habitats disappear under pressure from farming, agricultural chemicals, urban development and logging.
      The Postal Service receives about 40,000 suggestions for stamp ideas annually, but only 20 to 25 topics make the cut. For an artist like ­Mayford to appear on a stamp is making it to the Big Leagues.

How nice, way to recognize our very proud Marylander's!! Great Job; you are one of the very few who can boast of that accomplishment!