Do Birds Eat Bees? Is It Really True Or Just A Hoax?

Do Birds Eat Bees

Thrushes, kingbirds, swifts, mockingbirds, and woodpeckers are just a few of the birds that consume bees. The larvae of carpenter bees and leafcutter bees are particularly attractive to woodpeckers.

To be fair though, the majority of these bee-eaters are only scavengers. Some birds, on the other hand, are devoted to the pursuit of bees and include them in their usual diet.

The honey buzzard and the purple martin, on the other hand, only eat them as larvae or adult insects on occasion. 

And In this article, I’ll explain all about the Bee-eating birds in detail.

Do Birds Eat Bees?

The Meropidae family consists of 22 different species of bee-eaters, which are the final consumers of bees.

The European Bee-eater is possibly the most well-known of these species, which make up the majority of the continent’s total population.

A large majority of bee-eaters congregate in large groups, display brilliant plumage, and have a high pitch song.

To protect their eggs, they excavate a hole in the ground and nest there. They grab, kill, and eat bees with their large, curved beaks, as previously indicated.

In the United Kingdom, you may have seen (or heard about) the Honey Buzzard.

During the summer, these massive raptors may be found in the United Kingdom, but they spend the winters in Africa. They have a long tail and wingspan and are a grayish-brown color.

Following mature bees to their hives and then tearing open the hive with a strong claw is what honey buzzards do. Afterward, they’ll eat insect larvae such as bees and wasps, preferring to eat the larvae over the adults.

Your first thought may be, “How on earth are these people able to accomplish this without getting attacked by angry bees?”

The honey buzzard, on the other hand, has specialized feathers on its face and neck that protect it against bee and wasp stings.

How are birds able to catch bees?

Another factor preventing many birds from ingesting bees is the level of expertise needed to capture them. Bees don’t fly in a straight path, but they’re also extremely fast and agile.

In order to collect bees, birds must be able to discern the necessary angle and speed in addition to being extremely nimble. As far as obtaining bees, most bee-eaters employ the same strategy.

They’ll either swoop down and capture the bee off a limb, or they’ll glide and catch the bee in the air.

Upon capture, they smack the bee’s head against a hard surface with their large, curved beaks to remove the stinger and poisons before eating the bee whole.

Different Types Of Birds That Eat Bees

The majority of birds are omnivores, which means they eat a wide variety of foods, including plants, animals, and insects.

Many other birds, including northern cardinals, orioles, swifts, thrushes, woodpeckers, and mockingbirds, will occasionally consume bees. When given the chance, woodpeckers will eat bees from a particular hive they’ve identified.

However, these birds prefer to consume slow-moving insects like worms, caterpillars, and spiders since it requires less expertise than catching the fast-moving bee.

Carnivores, honey buzzards feed on a broad variety of animals. Birds, small mammals, and insects are all common prey for cicadas.

However, it is a specialized feeder and one of the birds that consume significant numbers of bees. The larvae of wasps, hornets, and bees are their preferred prey.

For the most part, it spends its time foraging for beehives in the woodland regions where it lives.

To access the beeswax and larvae, it uses its long talons to split through the honeycomb. A chemical deterrent may be found in their feathers, according to scientists.


1. Scarlet And Summer Tanagers

Birds endemic to North and South America, the scarlet and summer tanagers, are both medium-sized songbirds.

They can be found in wooded areas near suburban homes and parks, as well as in deciduous woods. Scarlet and summer tanagers consume mostly insects, although they will sometimes eat fruit and berries.

Ants, sawflies, moths, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and cicadas are among the insects they eat.

As a result, a significant amount of their food is comprised of stinging insects such as bees and wasps. These tanagers will return to the same perch from which they took off if they catch a bee in the air.

It’s known as sallying when you go on a walk, catch some food, and then bring it back home to eat it. The stinger of a bee, wasp, or hornet is removed by a summer tanager after it captures the bug.

2. Bee-eater 

Bee-eaters are the most well-known of the many birds that prey on bees. They belong to the Meropidae family, which consists of three genera and 27 species.

However, they may be found throughout a wide swath of the continents from Africa to Europe to Asia and Australia.

Bee-eaters come in a wide variety of species, each with distinctive plumage, long tail feathers, and hooked beaks.

Bee-eaters are known for their intricate sandbank tunnel systems and their tendency to reside in large numbers.

Parenting chores are shared between the sexes. Birds, for example, do communal parenting by caring for the young of their own kind in the colony.

Bees and wasps make up the bulk of the food of bee-eaters. Approximately 70% of their food is composed of various flying insects, with the remaining coming from bees and wasps.

To catch their prey, they will hang on a tree branch until they notice their target before leaping into action. Some species of bee-eaters can see a bee up to 330 feet away with their incredible eyesight. 

Predators will either fly away and consume their victim, or they’ll land on an open perch. Once they have killed the bee or wasp with a sledgehammer, they rub the venom sac and stinger off of it with their bare hands.

3. Northern Cardinal

Cardinalidae is a family of songbirds that includes the northern cardinal and redbirds, as well as cardinals.

A majority of their habitat is occupied by wooded regions, including gardens, brushy scrubland, and marsh.

Cardinals in the north are a fiercely territorial species that use a loud whistle to warn other males to keep away.

Northern cardinals are monogamous, as are the majority of other songbird species. Because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is currently illegal to sell northern cardinals as pets.

4. Purple Martin

A member of the Hirundinidae family, the purple martin is the biggest swallow in North America. They got their name from the remarkable glossy blue sheen on their all-black coloration.

This might make them appear blue or purple in the proper light. Both sexes work together to choose suitable nesting locations and then construct their nests in tree cavities or other man-made structures.

Sadly, their population is dwindling owing to competition with invasive European starlings for breeding grounds.

It’s a well-known fact that purple martins are agile and acrobatic predators. They grab their prey as it flies by hawking or snatching it out of the air. Dragonflies, flies, fire ants, and wasps are just a few of the arachnids they love to eat.

In what ways do birds pose a threat to bees?

There is no direct threat to the bee population from predatory birds because the two species have co-existed for a long period of time before that.

When compared to other predators like bears, foxes, shrews, badgers, and rodents, birds have a modest effect on the population.

In addition to eating the bees, these additional predators typically damage the hive and eat the honey.

At last, I hope this article was informative enough for you. Thank You For Reading!

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