These beautiful birds are coming quite late to middle Europe for growing their offspring. Early June is still mating time and by the end of August, they are already away to the south. They depend completely on the availability of big flying insects like bees, bumblebees, wasps, hornets, or dragonflies. Although they are native to Europe, they are quite new in more northern parts of i.e. Germany. They benefit from the warmer summers. Following the river the Danube in western direction from Romania to the Kaiserstuhl area in the south-western state of Baden-Würtemberg and then along the river Rhine to the north. For a couple of years, a tiny population is known west of Düsseldorf and another one near Porta-Westfalica next to the river Weser. A third well-known bigger population resides in the middle German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Besides big flying insects, they need open steep slopes consisting of clay to dig their brood cavity. Such a brood cavity is usually 1-1,50 meters long and can be up to 2 meters long with a diameter of 5-7 cm. Suitable slopes can be found in some parts of some rivers or in man-made gravel pits. Surprisingly, the machines seem not to disturb the birds as long as no human shows up and enough insects are around. In addition, the slope must be big enough to offer space for more than one couple, because they live in (huge) colonies.
In Germany, bee-eaters are a protected species as it is red-listed as an endangered species.