Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)


French: Guêpier d’Europe German: Bienenfresser Spanish: Abejaruco europeo

Merops Apiaster


, 1758,

southern Europe


Apparently related to species-group centred on M. superciliosus (which see) and also to M. ornatus. Monotypic.


NW Africa (Morocco E to Libya) and SW Europe (Iberia) E to W Russia and C & SW Asia (E to L Balkhash and L Zaysan, in Kazakhstan), S to Afghanistan and Oman; also S Namibia and South Africa. Winters at lower latitudes in tropical Africa.

Descriptive notes

28 cm (with streamers, up to 2·5 cm more); 44–78 g. Highly distinctive with multicoloured plumage. Male has chestnut cap and mantle, yellow throat with black... read more


Quite vocal. Typical call is a distinctive, mellow, liquid and burry “prreee” or “prruup”,... read more


In Europe, broad river valleys, pasture and cultivated land with shelter-belts and scattered trees... read more

Food and feeding

Diets have been studied repeatedly in great detail in many countries in Europe in relation to foraging energetics, in Asia in relation to... read more


Lays in May–Jun in Europe, from Apr in NW Africa, in Jun–Jul in Uzbekistan, and in Oct–Nov in South Africa. Pair-members... read more


All populations migratory. Spanish and French birds fly via Strait of Gibraltar down Moroccan... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common and widespread over much of its range. On basis of density estimates in Hungary and counts of autumn migrants at... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H. & Boesman, P. (2020). European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster). 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 24 February 2020).