The European bee-eater is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. The genus name ''Merops'' is Ancient Greek for "bee-eater", and ''apiaster'' is Latin, also meaning "bee-eater", from ''apis'', "bee". It breeds in southern Europe and in parts of north Africa and western Asia. It is strongly migratory, wintering in tropical Africa. This species occurs as a spring overshoot north of its range, with occasional breeding in northwest Europe.