I'm back from 3 weeks in Israel, where there were all kinds of bees... There were ones that humbly collected pollen and nectar of cistus (see photo above) and were busy building combs and making honey; but also there were some perverted ones that strayed from their task for a pseudocopulation with deceiving plants...
Growing up in Clil, there were a couple of spots near our home were year after year we'll go looking for the "Large Bee Orchid" (Devoranit Gedola). They were rare, and like most bulbeous plants, re-bloom each year in the same location and don't spread out nearly as easily as other wild flowers.
This year, I was fortunate to spot the rare bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) quite late into spring and in an area I've never knew was a habitat for this strange plant. The area where they were growing had a mind boggling abundance of them (relatively speaking, of course...) and me and my brother Yotam spotted 2 hybrids of them - Large Bee Orchid (which looks like bumblebee) and Velvet Bee Orchid (the brown one, which looks like a wild bee).
These sneaky orchids, in addition to dressing up as a wild Mediterranean bees, have developed an anatomy that will embarrass the manufacturers of blow-up-dolls. Furthermore, it even releases virgin bee pheromones (!) to make the male bee mad to the point of having sex with them...
This act of deception is called pseudocopulation. I haven't noticed any smell around these orchids, so I'm guessing it's one of those scentless pheromones... This natural phenomenon, nevertheless, got me thinking quite a bit about the intelligence of plants - they must know more than they show!
These orchids are the only plants I'm aware of having such a developed sexual scheme. I'm curious to hear if you've ever seen them in real life (preferably in the wild) or if you know of any other plants that have such strange sexual habits.
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