Blue-bearded Bee-eater takes a carpenter bee

posted in: Bee-eaters, Feeding-invertebrates | 2

Adrian Lim’s a.k.a wmw998 photograph of a Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) taking a carpenter bee (Xylocopa sp.) shows an uncommon side of the bird – uncommon for us anyway. The name bee-eater obviously refers to its favourite food, bees. After all, bee-eaters are experts at handling bees, bashing and rubbing them against the branch of their perch to remove the deadly sting.

We have an earlier post of bee-eaters taking bee and wasp, but a carpenter bee? This is a very much larger bee that lives in burrows made in dead wood and untreated timber beams of houses. Such a large bee appears to be less commonly taken by these birds – or is it because they are not as often photographed, like dragonflies?

Yes, bee-eaters are a favourite subject of photographers, who love to show these birds catching them on the wing to expertly manipulate them before swallowing. As a result, there will be many who are convinced that bee-eaters prefer dragonflies to bees. And this may well be so, unless we have quantitative data to prove otherwise.

Adrian Lim
July 2010

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

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