But when I returned home I found the move-your-hive setup in place and apparently starting to work.
Step right up, nice new clean hive, no waiting.
Man, I hate these one-way streets!
The one-way wire funnel apparatus was working pretty well, letting bees out but confounding them when they tried to walk back in. Many were going in and out of the new hive box in a normal, businesslike fashion so some of them appear to accept it.
The down side, which we kind of expected, is that the bees inside looked for other, easier ways to get out of the tree. Any place bees were leaking out got plugged with a little wad of steel wool, the one thing bees can't push or chew their way through. Ew, chewing steel wool - ugh. The few small places above and below the original hole they chose as a front door were filled easily. Then they started coming out the other side of the tree. Andy and Nick reported that they were quite docile while bark was gently pulled loose to find where they were getting out. Happily, nobody got stung.
Closing up the back door
Tonight just before dark we checked and found yet more places the bees were getting out. We could actually feel warm damp air coming out of the cracks and it already smelled like honey! We added quite a bit more steel wool everywhere we could find, and checked the wire mesh funnel on the other side to be sure there weren't any dead bees blocking it. (There weren't).
I think tomorrow they will have a really hard time going anywhere but out the funnel, but we'll see. We're hoping they don't get creative and go up and find a place we have to use a ladder to block.
And the other part of the tale is that we've discovered that this tree is really, really in bad shape and it's a wonder it hasn't split and fallen on the house and garage already. Once the bee situation is rectified we'll have to seriously think about taking it down or be sorry in the next big wind or ice event. And I really don't want to think about that.