I drove sixty-five miles. The woman showed me the colony on the back of the barn.
No bees. Not even one.
No $$ for removing bees. She grudgingly gave a little gas money when I asked.
Three things happened since three days ago when she saw all the bees and honeycomb. 1. The colony died in the winter when they removed the siding and exposed the colony to the weather(actual colony size was about 2'x3'x 6"). 2. Neighbor bees came to harvest the rest of the honey by the thousands until a 3. bear or other large mammal consumed the rest of the hive contents, leaving nothing but a pleasant beeswax smell and wax residue.
On the good side, none of my potential assistants could accompany me to the job, so I didn't have to share the money.
Next removal job is next week. This time I'll charge $1.00/mile to get there, which ends up being included in the removal job if there are bees to remove.
Important note to beekeepers talking to non-beekeepers:
Don't forget the principle called the "coefficient of exaggeration". Non-beekeepers usually don't look directly at a colony or swarm so they have only a vague impression of what they saw. It's nearly always smaller than a non-beekeeper's estimate. The coefficient varies by individual, but a good rule of thumb is to divide their estimate by 2—10 depending on the degree of panic in their voice.