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This is my first year of beekeeping. All of the books I've read say to start with two hives. Some long-time beekeepers in my local association says it's a good idea to start with two. My supplier, on the other hand, who has been in the biz for decades says one to start is best. Any advice from you beesource folks? Thank you in advance for your input!
 

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I agree with the 2 colony start. Big advantages
to be had with balancing and other manipulations.
Twice the fun;)

If you accidentally kill a queen you can put a frame
of eggs into the queenless hive and they'll make a
new one. Many other advantages too.

I can't imagine a supplier recommending one, but...
 

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The cost of starting 2 hives is no different than renovating 2 bathrooms of the same size. Sure, you can use the same pipe wrench, and tile trowel and soldering gas and hammer, and hive tool and smoker and veil... , but ya gotta figure on double the cost.

But there is no more hopeless feeling than needing something and knowing you can't get it - in time or at all.

I mistakenly started with only 1 hive last year and when they started failing late winter, there was nothing I could do about it. I'm in the process of ordering more bees and equipment (painfull), but I already have 20 frames of drawn comb to use (plus the 5 I'll get with the nuc) to create 2 hives this year.

If you're apprehesive about the operation, probably 1 is a good way to go - if ya like it, you'll save the money this year, but spend it next.
 

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When I started, I started with one hive. I wish I had started with two, as my only hive went queenless during summer. Hindsight is 20/20! I would recommend two, but if you can only afford one, don't let that discourage you. When I started, I just couldn't afford 2 hives...

Maybe a better/cheaper solution would to be one complete hive and a 5 frame nuc? The 5 frame nuc could be bought new for about 25 - 30 with frames. Maybe others will give there ideas on this for a beekeeper on the cheap. Also, In 4 - 5 years I have only purchased bees once! I'm a swarm man and at one point had 11 hives.
 

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Better to start with two.
I also started with one hive, and my queen died in December, and the hive dwindled and died over the winter. No more bees now. :(
Now I 'm waiting for my new bees to arrive in May. You can bet I am getting TWO colonies this time. My new policy?- never go into winter with less than 3 hives if i can help it. Bees don't always make it through winter, and if you have a surviving Spring hive then you can multiply again from them.
 

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In December 09 I ordred my first hive, and a package of bees. After reading this forum and a few other sources I adopted the idea that two was better than one. So by the end of December I had ordered another package of bees, and using my newly aquired hive as a guide, began building my second hive. In my spare time I continued educating myself and dreaming of the day I would get my two packages of bees. Then in January, I got a small one day side job that paid $130.00. While working that day I got to thinking....The pay from this job would just about pay for another package of bees and material for another hive. The next day I went to the lumber yard, the only decent 1x8's and 1x12's they had were 12 footers and they were on sale. Two boxes per 12' board....Might as well build 2 more hives and order two more packages of bees. Got the hives built and again have been waiting for 2 packages of bees. Since I have had all this spare time waiting and the weather this winter was miserable, I continued to read. That reading included swarm captures and cut-outs etc....Sounds like a great way to increase my number of hives, sooooooo back to building. I now have 17 Hives (2 deeps and 2 supers each) ready for occupancy and hope to have them all filled by July 1st. This is a very addictive hobby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blueline
 

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Yeah...I am just waiting for the swarming to start. Already built a bee-vac and gathered up the rest of the needed supplies. I am extremely lucky since I'm a cop, our dispatch center has all of my contact info. and they all know to call me for swarms or other bee problems. I have also talked to the two main pest control companies in town as well as several insurance agents, and they all assure me I am the guy they will refer people to. They all told me that they get calls every year and usually don't have anyone to call. Hope I don't run out of hives:D Also signed up on the swarm list linked above.

Blueline
 

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We started with two last year, one died & I intend to run at least 3 this year.
One just isn't enough. maybe 3, & a couple nucs will work for me.
 

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I had only one for my first two seasons and I had some problems that would have been helped by a using resources from a second hive. I have two now and was able to move a frame of eggs to the other when it went queenless. That was a very satisfying feeling! Will probably need to do at least one split this year. Wouldn't mind three but that's got to be about it for me for time and space concerns.
 

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Having been in your place just last year. For sure go with mutiple hives. Two hives is not double the cost. You don't need two smokers, two veils, etc. Basicly all you need is the 2nd set of woodenware/frames (and the bees of course). Don't worry about honey supers for your first year, the odds of you getting enough honey to put supers on is low, and you can always order extra equipment later if you need it.

You really need two hives to compaire / contrast each other. As other's have suggested you can share resources (bees/eggs, etc) between the hives to help each other out. Or if they both are not the strongest going into the fall you can combine the two to get a really good strong hive.

Your goal for the first year is to have fun, learn, and to create a strong hive going into winter. Having mutiple hives really helps out.

I don't know why anybody would suggest going with only one hive, except if you don't have the extra money. Two or more is for sure better. It is not a lot more work to run mutiple (most of the time is getting your equipment ready and your somker like -so working more than one hive is easy) and will help is so many ways.

I live in the same area as you do, so suggest more than one for sure if you can swing it.
 

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Beekeeping will be an addiction. I started last with two and wish I had more! You will not be able to stay out of the hives. If you have two can compare the two and also leave one alone as you go through the other one.
 

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Just thought I would put in my 2 cents,,,,

I started with one hive, bough a package of bees, a couple of weeks latter I captured my first swarm, So I did go the most of the first year with two hive.

I can tell you having two hives that went in around the same time helps in that you can compare the two. This way if one hive is doing better than the other you can ask yourself why.

FYI, I went into winter with 3 hives, one from a package of bees from down south, the second was a May swarm, the third was a September swarm,

the two swarms made it through winder and are going like gang busters, the package of bees, died out....

Bill
 
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