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How Do Flowers Attract Bees for Pollination?

Pollination is a natural method of reproduction, and nature has some interesting ways of making sure it happens. Take the bee orchid, for example. This beautiful flower, with the scientific name Ophrys apifera, has petals that look and smell like female bees, thus attracting the attention of male bees, who try to mate with the phony females. And while a male bee might think he's flying away empty-handed, he has actually picked up pollen from the orchid. The next time he makes a stop on another flower, he deposits the pollen, thus ensuring the reproduction of the orchid. And the flower's power doesn't end there: In places that don't have the necessary bee population, it has a backup system of self-pollination.

Buzzwords:

  • There are roughly 20,000 bee species, but only seven of them are honey bees, with a total of 44 subspecies.
  • The bee orchid mainly grows in southern and central Europe, as well as North Africa and the Middle East; it is particularly common in the Mediterranean region.
  • In the northern reaches of its habitat, the bee orchid is almost exclusively self-pollinating, despite its intricate floral mimicry.
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