When a person walks through my store door wanting to get into beekeeping, a frequent question is, “How many hives should I start with?”
The easy answer from any beekeeper is, “TWO”, if you can afford it. Two to four is a good range – more than four is a bit much for a beginner to manage.
Managing one hive is not necessarily easier than two hives. In fact, it can prove more challenging to start with only one as you will not be able to assess more than the fact that you have bees in some cases as a beginner beekeeper. With only one hive, you will not have access to resources needed resolve some of the typical beekeeping issues like becoming queen-less, not having enough stored honey for the upcoming winter, combining a weaker hive with a strong hive, or even knowing if you have a weak hive or strong one. Two hives provides you with the opportunity to compare and contrast. Two colonies tends to only add about 10 more minutes to an apiary visit and a bit more smoker fuel and sugar.
Then there is the problem of some colonies just do not make it an entire year. Several things can go wrong – to no fault of your own. Starting with one colony is an all or nothing game of chance. Then again, if you have kept bees for any period of time, you have likely mismanaged a colony here or there causing them to die out or abscond. There is no shame in it. Sometimes, it is simply a learning process.
At the Scottsville Supply Company, we work hard to ensure each new beekeeper starts with what they are comfortable with and with the right equipment to fit their needs and management approaches.