That being said, I do not want a first year beekeeper to start any way but treatment-free. Once on the treadmill, there's no good way to get off. Instead the freshman beekeeper must learn quickly to increase. The key I have found is to hedge your bets against losing all your hives at once and the best way to do that is by having more than one or two. I recommend a minimum of five. The increase not only helps in the numbers game, but it helps in the genetics game.