Bee Orchid

One of the more common summer orchids in Dorset.


As summer arrives so do the bulk of the orchids and the downlands of Dorset start to reveal their best kept secrets of the winter months. Although an exotic looking species the bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) is fairly common on our chalk grassland, both by the sea and more inland, as well as in our quarries, especially on Portland. 

This flower is called the bee orchid because it looks like a bumble bee. Some might say this plant has evolved to look like a bee to encourage male bumble-bees to try and mate with it and so spread pollen; others might claim the resemblance is purely coincidental and the connection is man-made based purely on appearance rather than botanical development. It is true that they can be pollinated by bees but personally I cannot believe any self-respecting male bumble-bee would mistake this flower head for the real thing! 

The bee orchid is always a welcome sight as it brings variety and a bit of excitement to botanical walks in summer! There is an unusual sub-species known as the wasp orchid that occurs on the Purbeck cliffs but I have never seen one. 


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Common Name Bee Orchid
Scientific Name Ophrys apifera
Family Orchid family - Orchidaceae
Status Local
Interest Level
Related Species - CLICK TO VIEW Orchid Family - Orchidaceae
Flower Colour Group Purple
Flower Visible
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
Look for An orchid with flowers that look like bumble-bees

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
GC: Calcareous Grassland Associated
Name of species Bee Orchid
This page created by PeterOrchard
This page was created 7 years 2 months ago

The Nature of Dorset on Facebook

The Nature of Dorset on Twitter

Print or Email this page:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Nature of Dorset on Blogger

Add this page to your social network: