Unveiling the Appetites of Birds that Eat Bees


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Most birds are omnivores. Their weight loss plan consists of a variety of meals together with small animals, seeds and bugs. Nevertheless, there are some varieties of birds which might be specialists in the case of bugs looking. Over 6,000 species are true insectivores. These are the birds that eat bees and different bugs because the mainstay of their meals supply. Is that this an issue for our failing bee populations?

Colorful bird known as a bee eater consuming a honey bee.

Most issues in nature have a steadiness however that doesn’t imply that modifications are by no means made. There are numerous honey bee enemies on the market in search of a tasty bee snack. From a bee lover’s viewpoint – is it an enormous drawback?

Predators: Birds that Goal Bees

Probably the most adapt bee-eaters belong to the chicken household Meropidae. Inside this household greater than 22 species of birds are recognized to be customers of bees. Fortunately, most of those birds stay in Africa and never in excessive beekeeping areas.

However, there are different birds that additionally devour bees as a serious a part of their weight loss plan. They’re recognized to actively pursue and eat bees all through the season. For them, it’s extra than simply a possibility – it’s a lifestyle.

European Bee-eater

Images of colorful bee eat birds consuming insects.

In any dialog about bee-eating birds, we can’t ignore one that really has phrase in its identify “bee-eater”. These birds belong to the household Meropidae and there are over 27 completely different species.  

Discovered principally in Asia, Europe and Australia, they’re stunning birds with brightly coloured feathers and hooked payments.

These specialised birds have carved beaks that makes capturing flying bugs a lot simpler. After all, they don’t solely eat honey bees. Flies and different bugs additionally make good meals – an necessary ecological steadiness.

Bee-eater birds stay in giant teams that may quantity within the lots of. Men and women mate for all times and the entire group shares in elevating younger.

Bees and wasps make up 70% of the weight loss plan of the bee-eater. They seize the insect in flight utilizing their spectacular eyesight. Bee-eaters can spot a bee in flight over 300 ft away.

Better Honeyguide

Lesser Honeyguide bird from Africa sitting in a tree top image.

Honeyguides are birds within the household (Indicatoridae). A resident of sub-saharan Africa, this chicken will get its identify from the tendency to information people to honey bee nests. There are a number of completely different varieties.

The honeyguide exists totally on the contents of a bee colony. They eat the brood (or bee larvae) and the beeswax.

In actual fact, they’re one of many few birds that feeds on beeswax. These birds additionally feed on wax moths discovered within the hive.

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Honey Buzzards

European Honey Buzzard perched on a tree snap image.

A big chicken that appears very similar to the native hawks in my area, the honey buzzard is fierce. It’s also referred to as a “pern”. Dwelling in components of the UK throughout Summer season, they over-winter in Africa.

The honey buzzard is a carnivore and eats many several types of bees, wasps, hornets, rodents and different birds. However, grownup bees aren’t the primary goal of this specialised chicken. 

As a substitute, it’s the bee’s brood contained in the nest that the honey buzzard wishes. They’ve particular feathering that helps shield their faces from assault as they dig within the hive for meals.

Purple Martins

Purple Martins and plastic gourd nests images.

Identified and appreciated for his or her insect catching skills. Purple martins eat many varieties of bugs.  Bees, wasps, flies, dragonflies and even fireplace ants (if solely we may prepare them to dig)!

Purple martins are discovered in lots of areas of the US. A member of the household of martins, swallows and saw-wings -their shiny black blue feathers give them their identify. Their plumage appears purple in some varieties of mild. 

They generally nest in colonies with many nests shut collectively. Seeing martin colonies with gourds as nesting models is frequent in my space.

They’re recognized to be agile hunters that carry out spectacular acrobatics in air. Eating on flies, dragon flies, and wasps, they may also eat bees in nice portions if the chance is there.

Summer season and Scarlet Tanagers

Scarlet Tanager bird eating honey bee in tree image.

Summer season Tanagers and Scarlet Tanagers are medium-sized songbirds native to the Americas. They’re small vivid coloured birds that look just like northern cardinals. 

Like most different birds on this household, they’ve a diverse weight loss plan of ants, moths, beetles, flies and grasshoppers. Nevertheless, they particularly goal wasps and bees.

The members of the tanager household are recognized to devour many bees and wasps through the summer season season. 

That is truly a great factor because it removes some pests from the setting. Too a lot of any insect is just not a great factor. In nature, you discover predators and prey – each serve a job in ecosystem steadiness.

Occasional bee eaters Kingbird, Cardinal and Woodpecker birds image.

Occasional Bee Consuming Birds

Not each member of the chicken household is a voracious eater of bees. Some birds do devour them if the chance arrives-but don’t essentially search out bees.


Japanese Kingbirds are sturdy birds that always harass anything that flies into their territory – even a lot bigger counterparts equivalent to hawks.

Typically referred to as “flycatchers” they take pleasure in eating on bugs. If they’ll catch a fly – a bee definitely poses no drawback.

Nevertheless, they do eat different bugs and even small frogs. Their weight loss plan additionally consists of assorted varieties of fruit. They’re occasional bee eaters and don’t characterize a big risk.

Northern Cardinal

The frequent cardinal or redbird is a widely known songbird. Appreciated by bird-lovers in every single place, the cardinal has a diverse weight loss plan. 

Eating on flies, beetles, worms and snails, it’s stated they eat grownup honey bees close to the hive. That is very true throughout mating season when they’re determined for protein. Different instances of the 12 months, they dine on grains, seeds, berries and fruit. 

Nevertheless, they pursue the best meals supply accessible and aren’t a serious hazard to beehives if different meals sources could be discovered. I’ve by no means seen my cardinals hassle the hives.


Members of the woodpecker household are available all sizes. You will note small ones that match within the palm of your hand and huge woodpeckers that look relatively scary.

Their weight loss plan consists of assorted bugs together with ants, termites, grubs, carpenter bee larvae and sure from time to time honey bees.

In some areas of the world, they could be a drawback for out-apiaries which might be secluded in wooded areas away from properties.

Plainly the woodpecker solely trigger an issue for beehive in instances of desperation when pure meals is just not accessible. It is a pure response to any dwelling factor making an attempt to outlive.

How Birds Catch Bees

The overwhelming majority of birds that prey on bees catch the insect whereas in flight. The chicken glides as much as the bee (birds can fly sooner) and grabs the insect.

Then again to a close-by limb to knock the bee’s head on a tough floor to kill it. The insect is consumed entire.

Bees sting as a type of protection. Foragers working within the subject are not any match for a hungry chicken. Most birds don’t assault the entire nest.

At instances additionally, you will discover orioles, swifts, thrushes, and mockingbirds consuming bees. However, this doesn’t characterize an actual risk.

They’d relatively catch simpler prey equivalent to: spiders, worms and caterpillars, amphibians and small mammals.

Are Bees Threatened by Birds?

Honey bees aren’t threatened by chicken predation. In actual fact, the influence of birds on the bee inhabitants is minimal in comparison with different varieties of bee hive pests and predators

Mice, skunks, shrews and bears do extra harm to honey bee colonies than just a few birds ever may. In most conditions, there are a lot sufficient bees and different juicy bugs to permit for some loss.

Do Birds Get Stung When They Eat Bees?

The motion of catching and consuming a bee takes place so shortly that birds don’t get stung after they eat bees.

The insect is shocked towards a tough floor earlier than being swallowed. Additionally, if it’s a giant bee, the chicken will rub the stinger finish off earlier than consuming.

What Ought to a Beekeeper do About Birds?

Beekeepers in most areas is not going to be affected by the occasional chicken consuming their bees. After all, in case you see it occurring – it’s time to deploy some techniques to scare them away.

The most effective factor a beekeeper can do to guard the hives is to offer meals for the birds. That is very true throughout mating season when the necessity for protein is biggest.

An excellent chicken feeder with an animal fats suet block is way simpler to catch than a flying bee.

Closing Ideas

Sure, birds eat bees however in addition they eat pest bugs that have an effect on residence gardens and agricultural crops. In nature, we should take the nice with the unhealthy.

These colourful and wonderful birds must eat too and chances are high they may do little to no hurt to the bee inhabitants close to your private home.



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