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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 4th June

Posted: Thursday 4th June 2020 by trustadmin

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera

The Bee Orchid is one of the most beautiful and well known of Britain’s native orchids, although it is apparently less frequent on mainland Britain than it used to be. Here it only grows in 3 or 4 places, and usually just a few plants in most of those, so I am always excited to find them.

Bee Orchids are one of just a handful of different orchids we get on Alderney and they are usually in flower for Wildlife Week, late May/early June. This year I discovered several in bud on the Saturday before Wildlife Week and they were in flower when I went back on the following Tuesday. Sadly, a further plant on a road verge nearby had been run over by a vehicle… More plants have appeared in other places since then so it seems to be a good year.

The Bee Orchid, like a number of other orchids, is a mimic plant. The stem displays a number of relatively large flowers with pink sepals that look like wings, and velvety, brown lips that have yellow markings on, just like a female bee. The males fly in to try to mate with it and end up pollinating the flower. Sadly, the right bee species doesn’t live in Britain so this orchid is self-pollinated here.

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