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TANGING BEES

By: Ronnie Smith CALLI-POWELL RANCH, Texoma, TX

Folklore or Fact 

Our family has been raising honeybees for three years. We have found the internet and Texas Bee Supply to be invaluable resources. In 2020 with COVID 19 causing limited interactions with people and three of us now working from home, we needed an escape so my wife and son started conducting bee relocations from the Dallas area to our apiaries at Calli-Powell Ranch. We record the relocations and share the bee’s progress on our Facebook page so the people that wanted to save the bees can follow their hives and document the journey through the year. 

During this project and through my son’s internet learning, he recently insisted that I watch a series of videos on bee tanging. 

Two weeks after my initial self taught tanging training, I had the opportunity during recording hive inspections to capture my first bee tanging experience as it happened.

Bee tanging is the act of generating a loud noise, using an instrument or instruments, resonating vibrations through the air that the bees can sense, encouraging them to land or return to their hive. 

There exist many different instruments that beekeepers utilize for this task. My personal experience has proven that this is best done with a full bee suit and hood while the camera is rolling so that it is less painful to share later.

There are several articles and books that date bee tanging to the 17th century when bees were kept in small hives in the farmyard. When a beekeeper noticed a hive swarming, they would bang a spoon on a large pot to notify neighbors that the bees were swarming, and that they were claiming the swarm of bees. Some folk lore even says the tanging noise calmed the bees and enticed them to land on the open hive laid on the ground and coated with honey.

Like any other beekeeping question, there are at least 3 opinions. One opinion states that unequivocally tanging bees has been fully dis-proven and is totally silly. The second opinion is that the sound generates a soothing frequency that the queen hears that results in her landing. The third opinion and most common is that the loud noise resembles thunder which will make a forager return to the hive or a swarm to land and seek shelter lower to the ground.

 I don’t know which is correct as I am no expert, but what I do know is that being in the middle of a swarm is something every beekeeper should experience. The excitement and energy can only be compared to the first time you find your new queen on your own.I am sharing an abbreviated version of our tanging video. We were finishing inspecting one of our bee yards when the roar of a wild swarm approached, and suddenly we were in a bee tornado! I did as only a fully internet trained tanging expert could do and requested my instruments (two hive tools) which is all we had, and the symphony began while the camera was rolling and capturing the excitement.

Much to my amazement and excitement, the swarm landed about 5 feet off the ground 20 feet outside the apiary where we cut the branch and shook them in a nuc and the rest is history. Did my tanging do the trick and lure 3 frames of bees into my care or were they going to land there anyway?

I can only tell you this, with the excitement of a swarm overhead and standing there feeling hopeless, you have nothing to lose except for future dignity when your son shares the video with the world. So take that mustard seed of faith and tang like there’s no tomorrow with whatever you have whether it’s a pot, bowl, hive tools, cow bell, musical triangle, etc. and hope for the best.

Happy Beekeeping!

A full version of the tanging video is at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1204662909869897

 

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