Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Not all bees sting ...

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)

O. apifera is an attractive and perhaps one of our best known and well-loved orchids. It can be found in a varied range of habitats including on chalk, clay and calcareous sand, in grassland, scrub, sand dunes, limestone pavement, roadside verges, abandoned quarries and industrial waste ground, where weathering produces a base-rich substrate. The above specimen, one of around a dozen examples recently located, was photographed in an elevated downland meadow in the South Downs National Park.

Each plant comprises a number of small flowers (typically two to seven), each of which has a lip resembling a bee, along with three large, pink, petal-like outer sepals - the two other inner sepals appearing like an insects antennae. The entire flower mimics an insect feeding on a flower. At least eight varieties and forms of O. apifera have been identified in Britain. The typical form is illustrated.


Lang, D., 2004. Britain’s Orchids. Old Basing, Hampshire: WILDGuides Ltd., pp. 150-153.

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