I had only been casually interested in learning to keep bees up until June of last year, when a swarm took up residence in the side of my house. A friend of mine who is a long-time beekeeper helped me cut them out of the wall, and I have been reading books and watching beekeeping videos on YouTube pretty much the whole time since then. We hived them right about at the end of the nectar flow, so I had to feed them through most of the summer. They came out of winter just fine, and I'm looking forward to doing my first split shortly. It might be helpful to mention that I'm near the bottom of zone 1.
I'm not sure how many colonies I want just yet, but I think I'll wait until it stops being fun to decide on a number.