I'm a complete novice, starting up with two hives this spring. I've just begun reading about beekeeping basics, but I'm leaving on a trip in a couple days and I need to order my bees before I go. Then when I come back in mid-February, I'll have time to figure out woodenware and so on before the bees will actually be available in April.
My question is: I'm planning to order bees from a local supplier, and they sell packages of three kinds of bees: Carniolan, Minnesota Hygienic, and Italian.
I've been thinking of starting out with two hives. I just can't sort out which bee qualities should have the highest priority, so I'm stumped as to which kind of bees to order. Ones which make it through cold winters? We're in USDA zone 7, out on a small island in the San Juans (northwest WA state.) Ones which are resistant to mites and so on? No one else on this island keeps bees, but there are various wild ones. How do I know if mites are a problem? Gentle bees? I'm not that worried about being stung. Big honey producers? Sure, that sounds great, but am I trading off other more important strengths?
So, since it's hard to decide on a type, I wondered if I could hedge my bets and get two different types. Would that create any problem? Would I have to put them far away from each other?
I emailed the supplier, and the person seems nice enough, but maybe a bit busy, so they didn't answer my question as to how to choose a type. They probably have way more to do than spend time online teaching new beekeepers. So.... here I am with my question.