We are delighted to note that there are a number of fledgling bee orchid plants growing on the grass banks by Short Hale and Dover Close.
At the moment, you’ll just be able to make out the leaves close down by the grass, so please watch where you are treading. The flowers should appear in June, but may be as early as May. Bee Orchids don’t flower each year, but we may be lucky and get a good display.
The Wildlife Trust website says “The Bee Orchid gets its name from its main pollinator – the bee – which is thought to have driven the evolution of the flowers. To attract the pollinating bees, the plant has evolved bee-like flowers; drawing them in with the promise of love, the bees are naturally attracted to the flowers and fly in to attempt a mating. As they land on the velvet-textured lip of the flower, the pollen is transferred and the poor bee is left frustrated. Sadly, the right species of bee doesn’t occur in the UK, so Bee Orchids are self-pollinated here. Look out for their diminutive flower spikes on dry, chalk and limestone grasslands from June to July.
How to identify
A small orchid, the Bee Orchid has a rosette of leaves at ground level and two leaves that grow up the stem as a sheath. The stem displays a number of relatively large flowers with pink sepals that look like wings and furry, brown lips that have yellow markings just like a bee.”
We are blessed to be able to find such beautiful orchids growing in the wild on our banks and verges. Please do visit them over the coming months and watch their glory unfold, but leave them in situ rather than pick them or dig them up. If you see some areas of uncut grass, you will know we are trying to preserve these lovely plants.