The Bee Orchid, (Ophrys Apifera) can be identified by its bee-shaped, brown and yellow lip and the two smaller antennae-like sepals, surrounded by two pink sepals. As well, the lip of the orchid is covered in fine hairs.
The plant can produce between 6-14 flowers in the months of June and July. It will grow to a height of 15-20 cm tall (6-20 inches). In the fall, this hardy orchid develops small rosettes of leaves and will continue to grow slowly in the winter.
Interestingly, not only does this orchid look like a bee, it also smells like a female bee to attract male bees. The flower secretes a seductive scent that is identical to the smell of a female bee. Male bees are deceived into mating with the flower, thus pollinating the orchid in the process.
The appearance and the scent of the orchid was evolved to attract pollinators, but despite its efforts, this species is almost exclusively self-pollinating.
The bee orchid is native to Europe. They are especially common in southern, central and eastern England. But because the plant produces thousands of tiny seeds that can be be transported several kilometers from the original flower, the bee orchid can show up in the most unexpected places.
The bee orchid prefers moist, well-drained soil. They can be found on dry, open grassy areas, usually on limestone. In the wild, they typically grow on industrial waste grounds, quarries and gravel pits.
Climate zones: 7-10