it's not to late. last year i started beekeeping again after about a 15 year gap in my beekeeping adventures. i bought 3 nucs end of april begining of may. i let them build through 2nd week of july(end of early flow) it rained so much they made almost no honey. i then split them into about 15 nucs with queen cells i raised. i did a lot of feeding and i brought 12 successfully through the winter. i was intent on big increase last year and did everything necessary to get them through including puttin them down my unheated cellar for a week when the polar vortex hit. i'm curently splittin and raising new queens for the splits. i'm up to 24 now and every box is full of honey. as far as which route you want to take i think in your location you would want to go with the mated laying queen option it will give them more time to get ready for winter with the least effort.