The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Little Bee-eater

Afrikaans name: Kleinbyvreter

A Little Bee-eater watches for prey from a perch in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

The beautiful Little Bee-eater

Photo © Steven Herbert

Merops pusillus

The Little Bee-eater is a small but beautiful bee-eater. It is widely distributed across eastern and northern South Africa as well as sub-Saharan Africa.

This species only weighs up to 18 grams and is about 15 cm in length.

Although the Little Bee-eater eats a variety of insects it predominantly eats bees, wasps and hornets.

Most bee-eaters nest in colonies but the Little Bee-eater nests by itself. They make a tunnel in sand banks where roughly 5 eggs are laid. Both male and female Little Bee-eater tend to the eggs and chicks.

Sexes have the same colour plumage. Juveniles are more buffy coloured with no black collar.

This species is found in various habitats including savanna, forest edges, woodland and wetlands.

References and further reading

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 386

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 52

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 126

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 167

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 172

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 86

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 262

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 254

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 278

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 382

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 293

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 180

Meeting with Birds - Author: Tom Spence - Published: 1986 - Page: 67

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 246

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 246

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 217

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 76

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 148

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 44

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Published: 2005 - Page: 48

Everyones Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Published: 1987 - Page: 17

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 126

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 100

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 132

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 95

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 164

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 100

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 175

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