Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) are like hen’s teeth in the North East. Sure, they’re fairly reliable at a few more calcareous sites in the near area (Silverlink, in particular) but by large, pop up sporadically in odd places. In any given year, I tend to only encounter a few away from my usual haunts – 2021’s surprise colony was found on the site of a former bus depot at Bedlington, for example.
Waiting for a bus outside of the B&Q superstore in Scotswood, Newcastle, it came as quite a surprise last week to find a couple of Bee Orchids growing in the wasteground around the bus stop. One vibrant spike quickly turning into dozens as we scanned the short-cropped verge here, kept tidy by the store’s owners. All in all, around forty plants could be seen in full flower making for quite the sight.
I suspect these orchids had been lucky. The grass had clearly been mowed recently, but likely before the flower spikes had started to emerge. The flowers were also positioned such that they would be seen by relatively few passersby – the store is visited predominately by those in cars meaning the likelihood of ‘accidental’ picking is much reduced.
We’ll certainly be checking on these again in future years…