Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid)

Scientific Name

Ophrys apifera Huds.

Common Names

Bee Orchid


Arachnites apiferus, Ophrys albiflora, Ophrys aquisgranensis, Ophrys arachnites, Ophrys asilifera, Ophrys austriaca, Ophrys botteronii, Ophrys chlorantha, Ophrys epeirophora, Ophrys friburgensis, Ophrys holoserica, Ophrys immaculata, Ophrys integra, Ophrys jurana, Ophrys mangini, Ophrys oestrifera, Ophrys purpurea, Ophrys ripaensis, Ophrys rostrata, Ophrys saraepontana, Ophrys scolopax subsp. oestrifera, Ophrys scolopax var. oestrifera, Ophrys trollii, Orchis apifera, Orchis holoserica, Orchis oestrifera

Scientific Classification

Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Orchidinae
Genus: Ophrys


Color: Brownish-red with yellow markings
Bloom Time: Mid April to July


Ophrys apifera is a perennial herbaceous plant up to 20 inches (50 cm) tall. This hardy orchid develops small rosettes of leaves in fall. They continue to grow slowly during winter. Basal leaves are ovate or oblong-lanceolate, upper leaves and bracts are ovate-lanceolate and sheathing. The plant blooms from mid-April to July, producing a spike composed from 1 to 12 flowers. The flowers have large sepals, with a central green rib, and their color varies from white to pink, while petals are short, pubescent, yellow to greenish. The labellum is trilobed, with two pronounced humps on the hairy lateral lobes. The median lobe is hairy and similar to the abdomen of a bee. It is quite variable in the pattern of coloration, but usually brownish-red with yellow markings. The gynostegium is at right angles, with an elongated apex.

Ophrys apifera - Bee Orchid
Photo via liboupat2.free.fr

How to Grow and Care

Generally, orchids can be grouped into three temperature categories: cool, warm, and intermediate. Buy a high-low thermometer to measure the temperature range in your orchid location. After that, choosing a suitable orchid is simple. As with light, some orchids easily adapt to more than one temperature range.

Most orchids we grow indoors come from the tropics, and most parts of the tropics are much more humid than the average living room. Orchids grow better if you can boost the humidity in their immediate growing area by grouping your plants or placing them on a dry well. Create a dry well by placing plastic lattice or pebbles on a tray, then adding water to just below the lattice or top of the pebbles. Place your potted plants on top of the lattice or pebbles.

Anyone who has ever watered an orchid knows that most of what you pour in runs out almost immediately through the bottom of the pot. Because orchids are potted in bark mix rather than potting soil, they need to be watered differently. See more at How to Grow Orchids Indoors.


It is widespread across central and southern Europe, as well as North Africa and the Middle East.


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