Hello Mr. C,
I'm responding about the beehive in the tree. I was wondering where you live and how high off of the ground is the hive? Also, is the hive made out of paper or are there bees crawling all over the outside of it? My suspicion is that the nest is a hornet's nest, in which case, they'll all be dead very soon (perhaps this weekend, if it gets as cold as predicted). Then your problem is solved. Once it drops below freezing for a few days, you can be sure that the hornets are dead, and then you can knock the nest off the limb without any worries. If they're honey bees, which seems unlikely, then you may have to wait longer for them to die. In that case, depending on your location, I may be able to come out and get them.
Hope that helps,