Australia – Perth Mint: Impressive Silver Mega-coins Pay Homage To One Of Earth’s Most Remarkable Insects.

The Perth Mint have released new two-kilogram silver mega-coins in tribute to the Honey bee, a most remarkable insect.

by Michael Alexander | Published on June 17, 2024

Bees have provided humans with honey for millennia. The ancient Egyptians attached great religious and spiritual significance to bees, while many civilisations honoured them in art, jewellery, sculpture and, like the Greeks, on early coins. The Honey bee is an integral part of our lives and provides not only the delectable product of honey so sought after and coveted throughout the ages but they also provide pollination for flowers and crops which provides the human race with needed sustenance. Bees of all species pollinate roughly one-third of everything we consume. The life and hierarchy of the honey bee is complicated with an organized society of three adult castes comprising of the queen, workers and drones each with a very specific purpose and function.

Bee-keeping and honey cultivation has had a very long history in Australia. Aboriginal Australians have cultivated and enjoyed honey from native bees, such as the sugarbag bee well before European settlement with 1600 described species of native bees in Australia. Interestingly, Most native bees are either stingless or their stings are not generally dangerous to humans. However, native bees generally do not produce large amounts of honey. The first imported honey bees to be successfully acclimated in Australia were brought in seven hives aboard a convict transport ship that reached Sydney Harbour in March 1822. Other species were introduced from Italy, the Balkans and North America which together with Australia’s unique flora added to the variety of honey. Currently, about 70% of Australian honey comes from nectar from native plants which means that due to the high quality and unique flavours of Australian honey, exporters can and do charge a premium price for their sought-after product. Another added advantage of Australia’s milder climate was that less honey has to be left in the hive to feed the bees through winter compared to Europe and North America – thus a greater annual yield. As such, bee-keepers produce nearly 30,000 tonnes of honey each year ranking Australia as the fourth largest honey exporting nation after China, Argentina and Mexico. Today, the Bee-keeping industry in Australia is astonishingly valued consistently at between 8 and 19 billion Australian dollars annually comprising approximately 25,000 registered bee-keepers owning over 670,000 hives.

It was the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer who so much admired their seemingly endless industry and energy, that he originated the phrase ‘busy as bees’. But their role as effective crop pollinators outweighs every other aspect their benevolence. Through this vital biological service, they remain essential to people, our eco-system and the planet.

The reverse side of these 2 kilogram silver coins are designed by Perth Mint artisan Jennifer McKenna whose design includes a detailed depiction of three worker bees on the petals of the large flower which is centred. The background includes representations of additional honey bees and flowers. As the surface is slightly concave and the strike takes advantage of a high-relief technique, every detail is visible from the delicate pattern on the wings of the bees to that of the soft texture of the flower petals. A ribbon scroll with the inscription HONEY BEE is placed below the primary design and the coin’s year of release 2024, weight and purity 2 KILO 9999 SILVER are placed along the upper right rim. As this is an anniversary year for the Perth Mint, the additional P125 mintmark is seen just to the upper left. The obverse includes the effigy of HM King Charles III created by engraver Dan Thorne along with the incused legend CHARLES III AUSTRALIA placed along the rim. The denomination 60 DOLLARS is placed just under the King’s likeness. The coin’s appearance is further highlighted with the addition of an oxidised process lending a darkened finish on the surface.

DenominationMetalWeightDiameterQualityMaximum Mintage
60 Dollars.9999 Silver2000.2 g.101.3 mm.Oxidised HR200

Each coin is individually numbered from 001 to 200 which is matched with a numbered certificate of authenticity. The coins are encased in a Lucite holder with obverse and reverse side easily visible and presented in a custom black hardwood box. For additional information, please visit the e-webshop of the Perth Mint.

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Author: Michael Alexander

Michael Alexander image Michael’s background in both numismatics and banknotes spans more than three decades and whose activities have varied from being a dedicated world coin collector to coin & medal design, marketing, theme concept and production. His additional interests include banknote research and in 1997, he founded the London Banknote and Monetary Research Centre to further these interests and activities. The company continues to offer monthly currency bulletins to both online and printed publications which includes information about the latest banknote news and releases from Central Banks and Monetary Authorities around the world. Michael has been a contributor to COIN NEWS magazine based in the UK since 1998 where many of his in-depth interviews, articles and bulletins have been published.

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