bees

Tim Wendell would like to adopt snakes to stop mice from damaging his beehives. (CBC)

Usefulness is in the eye of the 'bee-holder'. Just ask beekeeper Tim Wendell.

A Regina family isn't so keen to share their home with snakes. A wildlife rehabilitation centre first took 102 snakes out of the home. The family has since delivered 119 more to the centre.

While many people recoil in horror at the thought of a hundred writhing snakes, when Wendell heard the story on Blue Sky on CBC Radio, he saw an opportunity. He's looking for a few good snakes. He'd like to adopt the little guys, and put them to work on his beekeeping operation near MacNutt, Saskatchewan.

'I would adopt those snakes...if they need to find a home for those snakes, I'd find them a home...we'd respect them," he told Blue Sky host Garth Materie.

Mice cause a lot of damage to his nearly 4,000 beehives which are kept at 100 different sites. Wendell says they chew holes in everything. In winter, the bees can't defend themselves.

"In the winter bees are clustered the same way snakes cluster in the winter. They form a ball to conserve heat and so the mouse can come in there and the bees can't break cluster at minus 20 to defend themselves against the mice....[the mice] get in a make a terrible mess," Wendell said.

Wendell thinks relocating a few snakes to each site, could help with the problem. Right now he uses traps and poisons, and he'd like to avoid that.

He got the snake idea from a fellow beekeeper who gathered up pails full of snakes to distribute them to yards. Wendell would be grateful if he didn't have to go looking for the snakes himself. 

"I do have some bee yards that have snakes in them and generally those bee yards have no mice."

Salthaven West Wildlife Rehabilitation is taking care of the snakes. It says all offers will be considered, but legislation is in the works that specifies that in cases like this, the animals are to be released close to where they were found.