The European bee-eater is a near passerine bird in the Bee-eater family meropidae. The genus name merops is ancient Greek for Bee-eater.
This stunningly beautiful bird species are richly colored with a large variety, from green, blue, yellow etc. They are slender in shape and has brown and yellow upper parts, white, green and blue wings and a black beak. It is a small bird that can reach a length of 27 – 29 cm.
These Bee eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks, preferably near river shores, usually at the beginning of May. They make a relatively long tunnel in which they lay five to eight white eggs around the beginning of June. Both males and females care for the eggs, which they brood for about three weeks. They also feed and roost in communities.
How they received their name
The Bee-eaters received their playful name, due to the fact that they predominantly eat insects, and especially bees, wasps and hornets and have a good technique in feeding, while avoiding a sting. They will catch an insect in flight. Before eating a bee, they will carefully remove the sting by repeatedly hitting and rubbing the insect on a hard surface. It is said, that one bee-eater can eat approximately 250 bees a day.
Some bee-eaters are permanent residents, however the European bee-eater travel thousands of kilometers each year. They breed in Europe and Asia and as soon as their winter hits, they fly all the way to the southern hemisphere to escape the cold temperatures, only to leave again in April.