On Sunday, April 21, I got my two 2lb. packages. My wife was kind enough to allow me to keep them in the kitchen even though they buzzed louder and louder as they warmed up in the house. I was waiting until the evening to install the bees as they're less likely to try to find a new home if it's starting to get dark when they're installed.
My son thought the bees were pretty neat once he understood that they couldn't get out of the box to sting him.
I installed the bees into two medium boxes each. I also fed them a 1:1 sugar syrup to try to stimulate brood rearing. They have plenty of capped honey from last year so I didn't bother to cook up 2:1 sugar syrup (making it easier for the bees to get the sugar).
I forgot to add my pollen patty, but they have a few frames of pollen in each hive so it's probably unnecessary. I'll add a pollen patty when I check for brood in a week to make sure the queen is laying.
I also managed to mark my queens for the first time this year! I released the queen into the queen marking tube (seen below) and gently pushed her up against the screen with the foam plunger until she stopped moving around. Then I realized that I'd forgotten to open the paint marker! I had to work for a while to get the shrink-wrapping off the pen at which point I realized the paint wouldn't flow even after shaking the pen vigorously and trying to follow the little pictographic instructions on the side. Of course, the entire time, I was trying to keep the queen warm in the marking tube without accidentally dropping her!
Finally, I sucked on the end of the pen through my veil, and while I got a mouthful of paint (which I spit promptly back onto the veil), the paint was flowing and I dabbed a conservative dot on the queen's thorax. She was still moving around vigorously, and the temperature was above 40F, so I don't think my learning experience caused any harm.
Here's a picture of the first marked queen with the rest of her hive in the background. I'm not quite comfortable yet beekeeping with bare hands as I tend to flinch every time a bee lands on my fingers, so I found the tight gloves to be really helpful. They might stop a light sting, but it was too chilly for the bees to be trying to sting me anyway so I'm not sure any bees actually tried.
I gave each hive two frames of warm (room temperature) capped honey that I uncapped for them, and a gallon of 1:1 sugar water to help stimulate egg laying activity. Just as I was finishing up, it started raining pretty strongly, so I didn't get a chance to take more pictures, but the hives now have two boxes of drawn comb (with about 8 frames of honey each) and an empty box for feeding on top.
I'm getting close to finishing my hive scale. I could throw it outside now, but I've got four weeks until the Maker Faire deadline, and I'm still working on adding transmission to stathat as well as thingspeak. I'd also like to track down why my sensors are reporting 85C sometimes (I suspect they're resetting and need slightly more power). I have strong plans to install the system two weekends from now at the Acreage.