A few days ago, I got a call from Brubacher Excavating about a tree with bees. They noticed the bees last fall as they were clearing the land for new construction. As you can see in the picture below, they cleared everything but the one tree, just so they could find someone to hopefully rescue these honeybees. I would never attempt to remove and relocate honeybees in January, but this tree was coming down this day and there was no option to leave it in place any longer. The forecast was for an unseasonably warm 50 degree day, so I thought it might be possible to simply move the whole trunk, bees and all to a new location without the bees freezing and dying. But as I observed the tree for awhile, I noticed a couple squirrels going in and out of several holes right below the cavity. No bees had started flying yet, because it was still chilly, but I knew the squirrels were a bad sign. So the chainsaws came out, and the workers lowered the tree nice and easy as squirrels scattered out of every hole and ran into the nearby woods.
As the tree was cut into manageable pieces, it became clear that no bees were inside this tree anymore. Whatever honeycomb existed before was completely chewed away leaving only dry brood combs and no dead bees.
All was not lost though. We were able to salvage the entire cavity to set up in another area for a swarm to move into this Spring. It will be squirrel proofed, of course, with wire mesh. Another bonus is that I made a great connection with a company that comes across honeybees several times a year.