What a disheartening experience. Yesterday I did a cut out from my barn wall. One colony or another had been in there for about 4-5 years. I found a cavity about 3' high x 4' wide x 8" deep full of comb. Big dark combs in the middle, empty. Newer combs on the right full of honey. About 3 newer combs on the left with bees. Tons of cross comb, and comb adhered flat to wall and tarpaper. Hard to cut out.
Long story short, I made a total mess of the whole thing. Tried out the new bee vac I built, and although the bees seemed to make it into the box gently, there was a very high loss rate. Too long of a hose, perhaps? I took out the comb where the bees were, and saw some larvae, no capped brood, and no eggs (but that means nothing because I can't see eggs.) Never saw the queen, and the bees' behavior did not indicate that I had gotten her with the vac, or that she managed to hide (no cluster of bees after a few hours.)
Put the combs where the bees were into frames in a box, even the "empty" ones in case there were eggs... about 2 frames worth. Put in some of their honey, filled rest of box with drawn comb. Set them up in the yard and put the bee-vac bees in. Went out later and there was a huge pile of dead bees on the bottom board. Some still clinging to the screen holes in the vac, trying to escape. No sign of life in the box.
Bottom line, although this was not a strong colony to begin with, I managed to kill them all and make their final hours a nightmare. I'm devastated. I don't think I will ever attempt another cut-out.