So how do we know these leaves are bee orchid and not some other species?...
Well, most of the orchids that can be found in Bedfordshire do not produce leaves until later in the year..mostly march onwards. However there are other so called "wintergreen species" and leaves of burnt tip, man orchid and green winged orchids could also be found now, but are much less widespread than bee orchid. Burnt tips have only one known location, man orchid only from the Totternhoe area and green winged orchid from only a handful of known sites.
Bee orchids can occur in numbers on roadside grass verges on mown grassland around offices and other buildings and on abandoned arable land only a few years after the soil was disturbed and put down to grass.
Bee orchid leaves can be spotted even from September and the leaves will persist right through the winter to July the flowering time. The leaves tend to be broad, up to 2.5cm across, and with a shiny film like appearance almost like slug or snail trail on the leaf surface as shown in Richards photos.
Once the snow has gone have a look on your own lawns, or fieldside paths in the countryside..have a look at the grass banks around carparks when you go shopping...you never know what you might find!