Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??
If you order 4 - 5 packages or nucs, but all of your overwintered colonies survive, what would you do with them? Do you have enough equipment on hand, are you prepared to double your number of colonies this coming spring? If not, maybe you could talk to some local beekeepers and see if any would be interested in taking a few extra packages from you if all of your existing colonies winter alright.
It really is just a roll of the dice. Some years all of my bees overwinter, sometimes only 20%. Some of the best beekeepers around have lost everything over one winter. Rare, but it happens. If you have a good customer base and it's imperative you produce a honey crop then it may make sense to order them just as insurance and deal with it in the spring.
To everything there is a season....