Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Black Bee-eater (Merops gularis)


French: Guêpier noir German: Purpurspint Spanish: Abejaruco negro

Merops gularis


, 1798,

Sierra Leone


Formerly sometimes placed with M. muelleri (including mentalis) in genus Meropiscus. Has been placed with other small, rounded-winged species lacking tail-streamers in genus Melittophagus (see M. lafresnayii). Races intergrade in SE Nigeria. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. g. gularis Shaw, 1798 – Sierra Leone and SE Guinea E to SE Nigeria.
  • M. g. australis (Reichenow, 1885) – SE Nigeria or W Cameroon through Congo Basin to W Uganda and N Angola.
  • Descriptive notes

    20 cm; 25–34 g. Nominate race has black head with blue forehead and supercilium, and often a blue line below eye; scarlet throat feathers with basal part dark grey and... read more


    Rather silent. Most common call is a high-pitched, strident “tsi!-lp” (bisyllabic on sonagram),... read more


    Edges of high forest next to cleared land, plantations, waterways and larger clearings in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists of airborne insects: hymenopterans including honeybees, other bees, wasps, and ants, also butterflies, dragonflies,... read more


    Feb–Mar in Sierra Leone; in Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon burrow excavated in or after Jan and eggs laid in Mar–May; in Zaire (... read more


    Resident and partial migrant. Best evidence for migration comes from Mt Nimba, Liberia, where there... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in E Sierra Leone, and frequent and widespread throughout most of range; fairly common in R Congo forests; common or numerous... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. & Boesman, P. (2019). Black Bee-eater (Merops gularis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 April 2019).