Well, I couldn’t have put it off any longer without absolutely guaranteeing failure, but I’ve finally begun the process of removing the bees from my screech owl nest box. It’s a very simple, but ugly process: stuff a Hot Shot No-Pest Strip in the entry hole and get away fast. Of course, you have to find a safe way to do that. If you do it in freezing weather, the bees are incapacitated by the cold and you have options. But I let this year’s amazing cold-spell pass by un-utilized. Faced with warm, bee-friendly weather I had to do something a little complex to keep some distance between me and the bees: hose-clamp a long pole and a vise-grip together such that the vise-grip is horizontal when the pole is vertical and the release handle is on the underside of the grip, hang a very light, loose loop of rope around the release handle, close the vise-grip on the wide end of the No-Pest Strip, then go out and shove that Strip into the entry hole of the nest box in one quick motion—it’ll just fit through a 3" hole—then pull the rope to release the grip and go away at once.
That’s done now. Unfortunately, I have nothing against bees, Africanized, or otherwise. Apart from their habit of taking over my screech owl nest box (this is the third time it has happened over the years), and distracting people from the importance of our native pollinators, I like bees, and I don’t even bother them for their honey. At one point I’d hoped to get a local beekeeper to remove the hive, but I put off making the arrangements long enough that I’ve run out of time. So now I’m killing a perfectly nice, if poorly placed, hive of bees. Ugly.
I’m told by people with experience of this technique that it’ll kill the entire hive in a day. I think I’ll give it two. But then I have to rush to clean out the mess this’ll’ve left behind (unless I’m very lucky and the squirrels get in there PDQ and do most of the work for me), make any necessary repairs, and hope that my local owls have not given up on the box and found another nest site. It’s not quite time for nesting (that’s for early March around here), but a pre-condition of mating seems to be that the male owl secure a nest site, and mating has probably already happened. So, unless my female gave her mate the benefit of the doubt about the nest box being available in time for nesting, they may have already selected another nest site.
I have no idea what’ll happen. Stay tuned.