Carrington Research Extension Center


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Bees are Our Friends…and so are Snakes. Yes, Snakes.


For several years, I have given orchard tours to first graders.  It’s a good place for them to run around!  But what to tell them???  I chose something simple – honeybees.  We talk about how important they are, tell bee jokes and do the bee dance.  But the most important part is “Bees are our friends”.  Bees don’t want to sting you, they just want to gather nectar and make honey.  Hold still and they should go away.  Most stings are an accident.  The mean insects that may chase and sting you are hornets and wasps - not bees.  Hard for a kid to see the difference, but at least they have the notion that “Bees are our friends” in their heads.

Now for you adults….. Let’s talk about “Snakes are Our Friends.”  Yes, really!  There are NO snakes poisonous to humans in the Carrington area.  Like bats and spiders, which I know also creep you out, they are doing us a HUGE service by controlling pests.  In general, snakes eat tons of insects, slugs, worms, frogs, salamanders, fish and rodents like mice, voles and gophers.  In turn, snakes are eaten by coyotes, fox and hawks.

Our very common garter snakes would rather not be near you.  If you just stomp near them, they will just move off and be on their way. Yes, they are startling when they surprise you, but PLEASE don’t kill them. Habitat loss is already putting all reptiles and amphibians in danger.  Just agree to both be startled and ‘run’ away from each other.  If kids can come up to me, when they see me later, and say: “Bees are my friends”, I know you can just walk away from the next snake you see.

Last week, while pruning on a warm day, I came across two yearling garter snakes.  For sure, one is a Plains garter snake with its orange midline; the other one may just be indistinct. They were pretty frozen in defense while I took the pictures.  I released them back to a warm sunny spot, hoping to see them bigger in the future. I appreciate them for eating the grasshoppers, crickets and those rotten, chewing voles that love tree trunks. For more pictures of these two, go to the Fruit Project’s Facebook page:

     Snake3                     Snake2

The following links contain information on garter snakes and other species:

Kathy Wiederholt
Fruit Project Manager

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