Finally, the weather and timing cooperated (unlike last year).
Picked up the Italians, drove them home, where my neighbor and her two kids were working their pony (they don't have a big enough pen). Her youngest, Xavier, was stung pretty bad by ground hornets last year and has been panicked by anything resembling a hornet - like bees. I asked the kids if they wanted to see the bees, Xavier just about puked at the thought of it, but his older sister conned him into it. He settled down pretty quick, curiosity took over, and after ten minutes of talking about bees, he promised not to kill any more bees (he's maybe seven years old). When I told him that sometimes we'll get honey, he was jumping up and down with glee! It was cool to watch the transformation... on with the install (they didn't watch, I didn't think he was quite ready for that)...
With the warmer weather shaping up, I had been seeing a few honey bees around, which had never happened in previous years. I'm thinking last year's survivors from the bear incident actually found a place and survived. Or someone nearby started a hive last year.
It took all of five minutes to install them. No smoke, no sugar water, just opened the box, pulled the queen and put her cage in the hive, poured them in and called it good. They were a bit more active than last year's install, probably due to the warmer temps.
They were clustered so tight around the queen cage that I never actually got a look at her. I'll probably release her today, as they were trucked up from California on Sunday or Monday.
Off to make syrup - I won't repeat last year's near-fatal mistake.