I've read that bees hate tea-tree oil. I placed a cotton ball saturated with
tea tree oil in close proximity to their entrance. I would have liked to drilled
into the outer wall on the far side of their chamber and put the cotton in
there, but was unable to reach that. I used my tallest ladder and a long stick
to place the cotton in a crevice.
After placing the cotton w/ tea-tree oil, the bees were very unhappy with me
(one followed me a good 100ft, bumping my veil, and didn't give up until I left
completely). Yes, they need to be unhappy in order to abscond from their current
location.... my concern is that someone in the neighborhood might be randomly
stung. Hopefully not.
Never heard about using tea tree oil, but I have heard stories of using rat poison by the entrance.
How would you convince bees to abscond from a short-term residence before the
queen starts laying?
She is most likely laying like gang busters by this time. It is amazing how fast swarms build comb and make stores.
I think you chances of getting them to abscond are low, but I guess it is worth a try. I once tried to get a colony out of a tree by drilling a hole in the back under the comb and injecting a 1/2 bottle of Bee Gone without success.
A cut-out or trap-out may be the best options. After all, if you read Iddee's How-to on trap outs, you will see that trap outs within a few days of the bees taking up residence will lead to absconding.