Once again some great advice and a lot of things to think about. I have done a handful of cutouts before, I am no expert but I have done them both from the inside and the outside, this is just the first time I'll have to do a very controlled demo of plaster walls from the inside. The price is right. Regarding asbestos, I started asking a couple of folks in the know after it was brought up yesterday and most round here seem to think it was all horsehair. It doesn't mean that's right, but no one has really expressed concern about asbestos in plaster here and the certainly work with it a lot in my town. If I peel the asbestos away as suggested by Barry and others, it should minimize the dust. Of course a mask, goggles, and drop clothes go without saying. I think I'll also spray the wall pretty good before hand to try and get it wet. Not sure how much good that will do but it's worth a shot.
I know where the hive is, more or less. Like I said I found the very bottom of it by looking under the floorboards. I assume to goes up to any cross-stud in the wall, I just have no idea if that stud would be at the ceiling, or closer to the window or whatever. That's why I'll start just chipping away before I bust the saw out and go through the lath. I am hoping that by doing that I can locate all the studs, as well as any electrical infrastructure.
Here in Virginia we have had a very cold winter like many of you, and the bees in my managed hives only just started brooding up. I expect the hive to be low in population. I will try to open a window but like I said I think they're sealed. I'll just get the ones that congregate there periodically. Thanks to all of you once again for taking the time to answer my questions!