Today was the first chance I had to check it out, went prepared to have a crack at picking up a swarm that had just moved in. 2x 5 frame nuc boxes 10 frames, suit smoker and a few tools.
Found a stump about 5m high with bees going in and out of a north facing split. Not the tree I was thinking when I got the call but another only about 20m away.
Cut into the front of the tree about 450mm below where the bees were entering and exiting and pulled a strip about 200mm wide out.
Removed a few pieces of comb from the bottom and used rubber bands to hold them in a frame, Decided it might be easier to start from the top so cleaned up what rubbish I could from above the hive and soon realised it wasn't a fresh swarm. Nearly 1.5m of comb height and couldn't tell how wide or deep.
Not much to do but keep cutting and see what we had, soon realised there was no way it was going in a 5x5nuc so sent the offsiders to grab some foam vegetable boxes.
When I finished cutting this is what we had
300mm round 1.5m long piece of comb that had been built around what the white ants had left when they finished eating.
Decided the easiest thing would be to try and remove it in one piece, cut the bottom out of 2 vegie boxes and ran a bit of duct tape around to hold them together giving me close to a 1m box.
Broke the bottom 300mm off accidently trying to remove it in one piece. Bit that broke was mainly honey with a little pollen in new comb that was just to heavy. What I did get out weighed around 50kg and was still to tall for the 3 boxes together. Given I had a frame with a bit of brood and larvae I had removed earlier decided to cut a box lid and place a nuc box on top with that frame and another with foundation. Couldn't fit any more due to the cut out taking up room.
Plenty of bees were still hanging on the tree, have left them alone to find their own way into their new home.
Pulled out and took the broken pieces of comb that were still in the tree to crush and strain.
The fun now will be trying to get the comb cut out of the white ant mess into frames and a more permanent lodgings. The bees were remarkable calm, I even resorted to a hammer and chisel to remove some pieces and while it obviously upset them at no time did they become aggressive, never had more than one or two bees around my head. Did cop 2 stings through my sweet drenched gloves but it was as a result of crushing bees when I was pulling pieces of tree out. I think I have found the perfect bees to start building from, calm, easy to work and well adjusted to the local environment.