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Orchids in Disguise

This amazing plant is called a Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera). Unsurprisingly, this orchid gets its name from its main pollinator, the bee, which has thought to have driven the evolution of these flowers.

But why is this orchid in disguise? To attract the pollinating bees, the plant has evolved bee-like flowers, which the bees are naturally attracted to. Bees fly in thinking that they are about to get lucky and attempt a mating. However, as they land on the velvet-textured lip of the flowers, the pollen is transferred aiding pollination benefiting the plant, although the poor bee leaves unsatisfied. Personally, I think the flower looks just like a bee and is even furry to touch!

Sadly, the correct species of Bee doesn't occur in the UK, so Bee Orchids are self-pollinated!

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