Bee orchid – Ophrys apifera
Identifying Bee orchids
I think Bee orchids, Ophrys apifera are relatively easy to identify as they resemble a fat bumblebee! They can be found in chalky grasslands. Both places I saw them was very well drained and poor soil. The flowers are 2 to 3 cm across and pale pink with a rounded brown furry lip. The flower stem is about 30cm. As far as I know, the only other species it could be confused with is Late spider orchid, Ophrys fuciflora, which is only found in Kent. Let me know if you disagree!
Pale Bee orchids- Ophrys apifera var flavescens
I was lucky enough to be shown these on the same Eastbourne walk as mentioned above. Our leader explained that the colour is not pure white but a very pale pink. He showed us that the rounded brown lip is also paler in colour, ranging from beige to light green.
I hope to identify other Ophrys species such as the Late spider orchid, Ophrys fuciflora mentioned above, and the more common Fly orchid, Ophrys insectfera or the rarer Early spider orchid, Ophrys sphegodes. I have read that the last two have pale green flowers rather than pink.
Read more about Ophrys – Bee, Spider and Fly Orchids
Blog posts mentioning Bee, Spider and Fly orchids – Ophrys are tagged Ophrys
2021 was a particularly good year for orchids in my neck of the woods!
More about Orchids in general