In looking over some of this I have a question. . . Your boss. . . Is he a commercial beekeeper or sideline? What do you do w/ him? Is he your bekeeping boss or somethingelse? You may have already answered this question, but how long and how many hives do you / have you had? I am only 2 years in beekeeping but I know what it is to have a full time job, wife and three children, and squashed for time this past spring so that I needed to sell one hive because I couldn't make enough woodenware to keep up. Growing your hives was recommended by many I don't remember if that was here or not, but the reason is you then understand what setbacks come at each stage. You can go from 20 and up fairly quickly from what I understand. This year I went from 3 to 8 (If I had equipment ready I would have gone higher) and sold one because it was CRAZY busy on the flow in the spring. Being 19 you have a great opportunity to do what you love with your life. I was told by a guy I went to church with that "a lot can happen in a short ammt. of time" and he was right.

I agree w/ lakebilly about borrowing. Been there done that and don't want the tee shirt again!!!

Ultimately it's your decision. There's so much good advice and so much that I haven't gone through even on this thread. (62 pages or so I haven't gone through yet) Chose wisely. One more thing. . . If you get downwind and problems / setbacks come up you can always adjust your course. That's easier to do by far w/o debt. With debt and other responsibilities it's much harder to change directions. If this is your passion / desire then it can be done as has been said already. ("It's been done already")

Just some food for thought. The answers to the questions that I asked may / hopefully will direct your thoughts also. (If you work as a beekeeper with your boss then you may not "need" to work with another guy, but I'd love to get the experience closer to the field you're interested in.)