We always recommend starting with two colonies. It does require a bigger upfront investment, but it will also increase your chances of survival! Here’s why:
- The current loss rate is about 40%. With one hive, it’s really a coin toss on if your bees will overwinter or not. With two hives, you’re likely to have at least one survive. It’s much less of a bummer to have one hive overwinter than none!
- A big benefit of managing more than one colony is that you have the option to pull resources from a strong hive to bolster a struggling one. Sometimes, a frame or two of honey or brood can make all the difference for a weak hive.
- For new beekeepers, observing two different colonies throughout the season will be a huge learning experience. No two colonies will operate the same way, and it can be incredibly illuminating for you to see the differences.
- After the initial set-up, the cost and workload of maintaining two hives is only marginally more than one. You’ll be tacking an extra 20 minutes per hive onto your inspections, but once you’re all suited up - that’s nothing.
- If all goes well, more hives mean more honey!
You can certainly make it work with just one hive, but your chances of success are higher with two. That's our two cents!