RANGERS and volunteers at Kinver Edge are digging sandy pits to support solitary bees, ahead of World Bee Day this Saturday (May 20).

Areas of bare ground have been created for insects to use as sites for nesting, basking and chasing after prey across the heathland at the National Trust conservation site.

The Pantaloon Bee, one of the species found in the sandy scrapes, gets its name from the females’ oversized pollen brushes on their hind legs.

The bees’ ‘pantaloons’ help the females excavate sand as they reverse out of their burrows. Lead ranger Ewan Chapman said: “Bees are amazing creatures. Not only do they pollinate our crops, they’re also vital for the survival of lots of wild plants that support so many other species of wildlife.

“The sandy soils of lowland heathland provide warm, dry conditions that suit many species of burrowing insects, including the Pantaloon Bee, some of which are scarce or rapidly declining in our area. Without this vital conservation work, we risk losing many invertebrates that make their home in this type of habitat.

“The Black Oil Beetle, recently spotted at Kinver, rides on solitary bees, during part of their life-cycle, and feeds on their eggs and nests. The creation of bare earth indirectly benefits the Oil Beetle by supporting the health and diversity of wild bees across the heathland.

Stourbridge News: Volunteers at work at Kinver EdgeVolunteers at work at Kinver Edge (Image: National Trust assistant ranger Alex M)

“To create the sandy scrapes, we’ve removed the vegetation and scraped the earth away to expose bare ground underneath. Nothing is wasted - the excess soil we’ve dug out is used to repair erosion damage to the iron age hillfort on Kinver Edge.”