Bee Orchid is a
perennial plant of the UK, typically found growing in chalky grassland, scrubland and waste ground, to a mature height of up to 40cm.
The Bee Orchid is named after the appearance of its flowers, which mimic the shape of a female bee. This mimickry is intended to lure male bees to pollinate its flowers during 'pseudocopulation' (although this does not happen in the UK, as we lack the right species of bee and the plant has to self-pollinate). The Bee Orchid may be difficult to spot, as it takes up to eight years to first flower and often only flowers sporadically.
Botanic classification and naming: Bee Orchid is a member of the Orchid (Orchidaceae) family. The genus name
'Ophrys' identifies the plant as a Orchid with 'eyebrow-like' furry-edged flower lips and its species name 'apifera' means 'bee-bearing (flowers)'.
Concerns: Orchids, like wild flowers in general, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) from being removed from the wild. Rare orchids such as the Early Spider Orchid, Monkey Orchid and Lady's Slipper Orchid are additionally protected from picking and damage. In Northern Ireland, the Bee Orchid is protected under the Wildlife Order (1985).