Nesting and Feeding Habits of the European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster L.) in a Colony next to a Beekeeping Site

Massa B. & Rizzo M.C.

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Abstract:

Authors carried out a study on a population of bee-caters colonising a former sand quarry next to a beekeeping site. Data were collected to estimate population size, evaluate microclimate differences inside and outside nest tunnels, calculate bill length and weight variation in relation to nest excavation and nest attendance by bee-eaters, and to analyse their feeding habits, in particular in relation to bee availability. Population size was estimated as much as 100-110 pairs. Bill length resulted to decrease during the nest excavation, growing again after one month. Weight on the contrary was increasing during egg laying and brooding, and decreasing during nestlings’ attendance. Temperature outside nests resulted on average lower than inside the nest tunnel, which in turn resulted much more constant. Bee-eaters are specialized in hymenopterans predation, and considered in some countries a pest for beekeeping. The analysis of the relationships between availability of bees and bees preyed upon by be te . the study area consented to consider bee predation incidence actually acceptable to the bee colony for future survival.