A bee orchid (c) Ben Andrew

Bee orchids

Bee orchids are fascinating and beautiful plants that certainly live up to their name: each flower looks like it has a female bee or wasp resting on it. These modified petals also smell like female bees, emitting enticing chemical signals. These remarkable adaptations are in fact an effective deception to lure a real bee to come and mate.

In most bee orchid species the excited male insect becomes covered in pollen, in turn pollinating the next orchid he visits; a few species, however, are still self-pollinating. These Mediterranean masters of mimicry grow either singly or in small groups in meadows, woodland edges or even by the side of the road.

See a summer's wildflower meadow spectacular.

Scientific name: Ophrys

Rank: Genus

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The Bee orchids can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Europe, Mediterranean, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Bee orchids distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web