Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus)


French: Guêpier à collier bleu German: Blaubrustspint Spanish: Abejaruco variegado
Other common names: White-cheeked Bee-eater

Merops variegatus


, 1817,

Malimbe, Cabinda, Angola


Has been placed with other small, rounded-winged species lacking tail-streamers in genus Melittophagus (see M. lafresnayii). Sometimes regarded as forming a species-group with M. oreobates (which see). Has often been treated as conspecific with M. lafresnayii (which see). Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. v. loringi (Mearns, 1915) – extreme SE Nigeria (Obudu and Mambilla Plateaux) and S Cameroon E to Uganda, NW Tanzania and W Kenya.
  • M. v. variegatus Vieillot, 1817 – Gabon E to SC DRCongo (Kasai), Rwanda, Burundi and S to N Angola.
  • M. v. bangweoloensis (C. H. B. Grant, 1915) – C Angola, Zambia, S DRCongo and SW Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–21 cm; 20–25 g. Nominate race has crown and upperparts green, a broad black eyestripe, white cheeks and neck sides, and yellow throat bordered below by deep... read more


    Overall rather similar to M. pusillus, but somewhat lower-pitched. Calls are “pip”, “tup-... read more


    Prefers reedy lakeshores and papyrus beds, marshes, grassy hillsides, rank grassland at up to 2100... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats wide variety of airborne insects: in one study (based on data from Cameroon and Zambia), 86% honeybees, flower bees, halictid bees,... read more


    Breeds in Feb–Mar in Cameroon and N Zaire, Oct–Dec in Tanzania, Aug–Sept in Gabon, and Sept–Oct in Zambia. Nests... read more


    Mostly resident, though doubtless subject to same degree of local movements and nomadism induced by... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Frequent to common in prime habitat in many parts of range. In Cameroon, common at 1900–2300 m on Mt Manenguba, less common at up to 2400 m on... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus). 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 25 April 2019).