Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring
Welcome to Beesource Littlejoe. I agree with the one race suggestion. You should get your bees in late March or early April for the best experience and to catch the flow. Durham is not much different than Richmond and our flow is over by mid June. Italians will do well for you and are pretty docile. The drawback is that they consume winter stores rapidly. In NC this won't be a huge problem as Spring comes pretty early.
As for feeders, I really like the Beemax feeder by Betterbee and highly recommend it, even at the $32 price tag. I just got a few Ceracell feeders for my nucs and will be trying those out this winter and into next year.
Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.