Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?
The others are mentioning the fallout for the coming year of having only one colony vs. two or three. I would mention to you the prospect of overwintering one colony. Will you find yourself miserable if that one dies in the winter? I would likely feel as if I'd wasted a significant portion of a calendar year as a beekeeper. That's how I felt about the three colonies I was left with when some family members relocated who'd been keeping bees in my back yard. Those colonies died out and we re-started in spring 2016. This year we have many colonies surviving and feel as if we do not have a total re-start. We have more learning we can do with continuing overwintered bees. The splits from last summer were learning experiences (using purchased mated queens), as are those we're just starting (with the hope of locally reared queens). If you purchase only one nuc/colony/package do consider it worth your time to split it even if purchasing mated queens for the splits. Our splits last year were too late in the season, post nectar-flow, for me to be confident of local queen rearing.
"I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself