What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I love weird scents, and am constantly on the lookout for something unusual. So on the way to looking up a source for some materials that I want to tincture (I’ll write about them in another post) I found this South African website which is a store and several blogs all in one. I was thrilled to see a fascinating post about how male African orchid bees create their own signature scents by collecting aromatic materials from flowers, rotten wood and fruit, feces, and tree resins, concentrating them in special lipid-containing pockets on their legs in a process similar to enfleurage. Each bee creates his own signature scent. Presumably the more materials a male bee collects and the more attractive the resulting perfume, the better he is at attracting females. The ultimate "chick magnet".

I never cease to marvel at the ingenuity of nature. If I were independently wealthy I would take a trip to South Africa just to smell a euglossine bee’s leg pockets. How wonderful and weird would that be?

[Photo of an insect that appears to be an orchid bee adapted from Wikimedia]


  1. Thank you for the great link to the South African website. I have never been to SA but I have several friends, students and old teachers who lived or went to school there. One of my closest friends used to send me all kinds of stuff about South African orchids and I still have post cards and paperwork in my collection of paper ephemera from an early 1980's World Orchid Conference in South Africa. I would like to go there someday to look at orchids and perhaps to smell the bees? Gail

  2. Hi Gail! I would love to visit South Africa someday to look at orchids and smell the bees. The natural environment sounds like an amazing place.

  3. Perfumer bees, I love it! (one bee to another- "I prefer fougeres myself...." ;-)
    I have a friend who leads treks in SA and someday, I hope to go on one. So many unique species, and I want to see proteas in their native environment.

  4. Marla, how can you not love "perfumer bees"? I wonder if they prefer gourmand scents (by their standards)?

    This has really made me want to visit South Africa.