I have read the various forum posts addressing ferrel bee hives found in hollow cavities in both dead and live trees. I have a live tree that has opening scarely large enough to fit one's four fingers that has housed a small quantity of bees. I notice very little traffic (one to maybe three bees every 10-15 minutes). The chest high opening only reveals that the oak tree is nearly entirely hollow, but the trunk is a good two feet in diameter. The tree is located too close to other viable trees and neighboring property to cut it down. I intended to used a well sharpened chainsaw to quickly cut a "doorway" around the opening that could be opened and closed as future ferrel swarms might be found. In the next few days I intend to "quickly" drill a few holes above and below the opening in an attempt to establish the size of the cavity in the tree (probably with the aid of a little smoke). I intend to use a bee vac that built and have tested on some field bees to retreive the swarm if its viable.
My questions are:
1. With such few bees, can the workers be robbing a dead hive?
2. How do you determin robbing vs. returning bees?
3. Anyone have any better advice to gain access to the bees other than my "drill" and "doorway" method?
4. When is too few bees truely too few?
I have 4 years beekeeping experience about 10 years ago.
I currently have clean equipment with no established brood or honey stores/comb.
There is always more than one way to skin a cat, that's of course if you're into eating cats.