PERKASIE — Joe and Jean Meyers know a lot about honeybees from raising bees at their World O'Honey in Silverdale. Extracted honey from their hives is sold locally.
Christine Applegate, a Penn State master gardener of Bucks County, also knows a lot about bees from being a beekeeper.
The three shared some of that information in an April 17 Earth Day-related program at the Samuel Pierce branch of the Bucks County Free Library in Perkasie.
"We partnered with Perkasie Borough this year in celebration of Earth Day," said Wayne Lahr, the library's branch manager.
The partnership included a community book read and a focus on pollinators, he said.
"One of the biggest things that people can do to help the bee population is put a hive up. The more hives up, the better off the population will be," Joe Meyers said.
One of the biggest things he's noticed since getting involved in beekeeping is the loss of habitat, he said.
Additional new homes are not the problem since the homes usually still have plants on the property, he said.
"When you see a strip mall go up somewhere and, five years later, half that strip mall is empty and you see another one being built five miles down the road, to me that's really a loss for the bees and all of our animals," Meyers said.
Beekeeping is an interesting hobby and one that everybody can do, even people living in apartments, he said.
Bees are normally docile, he said.
"Bees will really only attack if they think the hive is being attacked or the queen is in danger," he said. "They really tend to get to know you and what you're doing and accept it."
The toughest part of raising bees is being able to keep the hives over the winter, he said, recalling losing all the hives after over-insulating during his first year of bee raising.
"The bees can survive cold, but they can't survive wet, so they got wet, they got cold, they died," he said. "We learned."
"There are over 4,000 species of native bees in North America, and just in Pennsylvania alone, there are 400 species," said Applegate, who brought along a model of a bee to help with the demonstration.
Other kinds of pollinators include moths, beetles, flies, birds and bats, she said.
"They all contribute to the process of plants making seeds," Applegate said. "That's what the pollination thing is about."
Wasps are carnivorous, but bees are not, she said.
"All bees are vegetarian, so their mouth parts are made for manipulating wax or moving mud, things like that. Their stinger is for defense," she said.
She also offered tips on providing habitat.
"Because many of the native bees are tied so closely to the native plants, try incorporating some native plants into your landscaping. There are a lot of them that are beautiful," she said. "Try to make selections that bloom continuously throughout the season."
The Meyerses and Applegate also answered questions from attendees, including one about whether dandelions were good for attracting bees.
Dandelions are not native to Pennsylvania but do attract bees, Applegate said.
"They were brought over here to eat" and are very nutritious, she said.
The One Community, One Book community read and discussion included "Our Native Bees: North America's Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them" for adults, "You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Bees" for older children and the picture book "Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book" for younger children, Lahr said.
Copies of the books are available at the library, although there could currently be a wait time because of other people having taken the books out for the community read, he said.
"They were out all the time," he said.