Monday, June 18, 2012

Bee Orchids

Another of those pop-in-posts. A short while ago the Swaffham Bulbeck Cyclist mentioned the possibility of seeing some Bee Orchids and kindly pointed me in the right direction.  They are not in the best of locations so I won’t indicate where they are.

I also found them quite tricky to photograph, I used a x1 close-up with my 14-140mm zoom and also used my zoom on its own. I suppose what I really mean is my pictures aren’t as good as I would like.

Here they are the first couple were taken without a Macro. Apparently Bee orchids (Ophrys apifera) successfully reproduce through pseudocopulation. Only about 10% of an Ophrys population gets pollinated – but each orchid produces about 12,000 minute seeds.

Bee Orchid Jun 2012 East Anglia

Again this was taken with just my zoom lens. They also have a specific Wikipedia page – Ophrys apifera. Lets hope there are some bees around. The plants bloom from mid-April to July.

Bee Orchid Jun 2012 East Anglia

There rest were taken with a close-up filter – which gives a macro effect.

Bee Orchid Jun 2012 East Anglia

One of the effects of the filter is to make the depth of field less. The “depth of field refers to the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene being acceptably sharp” (Wikipedia last link).

As a result it throws the background nicely out of focus – but the flower is perhaps not quite as sharp back to front.

I think that from this angle it looks more like a flying alien.

Bee Orchid Jun 2012 East Anglia

The last time I saw Bee orchids was in a friend’s garden on a bit of lawn under some bushes where the grass didn’t grow much.  There must have been 10-15 plants in a patch of a few square metres.

The flower below does look much more like a bee hanging upside down.

Bee Orchid Jun 2012 East Anglia

And finally I think this was without the close-up filter. With the light behind the flower it has lost some of the detail in the “stomach” area.

Bee Orchid Jun 2012 East Anglia

If you are interested in seeing Bee orchids then I have seen an information board over at Lark Farm. (See this old Post – find Bee Orchids). Don’t damage the habitat though whilst perhaps not super-rare they are not an every day plant and according to the Wikipedia link are protected under CITES II. There is a Bee Orchid Way in Norwich. Also wild plants are given limited protection under UK law.


  1. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistJune 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Superb photos! I gather the landowner has been made aware and so I hope will be altering the mowing regime to protect the orchids.

    1. Thank you.

      Good news, it would be go to see them flourish there.

      I might pop over to Lark Farm and have a look there at the weekend.