If you're just starting out, the most reputable beekeeping sources will recommend starting with two hives. Having two hives for the first few years will help you learn the art and science of beekeeping, while providing you with the right amount of experience and resources needed to successfully maintain healthy bees. I encourage my students to start with 2 hives that first year. Most new beekeepers shouldn't start with more than 4 hives. Trying to control more than 4 hives without the help of a practical mentor is risky. It's much better to spend a year learning about and enjoying honey bee colonies.
After overwintering in one or two colonies, you'll be ready to grow your apiary. You are taking a look at the brilliant catalogs of bees about to order your first hive. His bee club advises him to start with two, but he thinks one is best. After all, it looks expensive and you might not even like it.
What to do? My advice? I'm on the side of bee clubs, in this case you don't want to start with just one hive. If you don't have any experience with bees, don't buy more than that. It's a personal decision, but I would start with two of them so you can easily move frames between teams. For a beginner beekeeper, the ideal is to have between two and five hives.
This apiary size is small enough for a beginner to handle, but it still provides enough bees to allow for winter losses. Expand in a couple of years, after having gained experience and confidence. Once the hive is established, it can produce 50 to 100 pounds of leftover honey each year. If possible, I would like to start abundantly with 6 or more hives, but first I wanted to see if there have been other similar cases like this to analyze the waters.
Small-space beekeepers (also known as urban or suburban beekeepers) may want to consider starting with a single hive. Starting with a hive, while not ideal in many ways, has been important for me to make sure I don't go overboard with beekeeping activity in my small urban yard. The truth is that there are some valuable guidelines regarding the perfect number of hives for a new beekeeper. With all the healthy and prolific hives in the area, I considered sending the original February order (apparently they are scarce, they are all sold or talked about), but I really believed that a second colony would provide a comparison (totally different gene pool and origin) and stability in the event of winter losses, the main complaint here on the island so far.
However, you must have an initial number in mind to be able to make the necessary plans for your bees. A first-year beekeeper with a new hive will not know if the colony is weak or strong without having created another hive at the same time with the one that compare it. Suppose that a beginner beekeeper will lose 30% of their colonies the first season (errors, escapes, common problems (e.g., I started with a hive and, by carelessness, the hive disappeared) and, since I had only one hive, I was out of beekeeping for several years. Although clothes and tools can be used many times, the more colonies you want, the more money you'll spend setting up your hives.
If I have to give you a number of hives that a beginner should start with, I'll tell you: 2 hives. However, many beginners buy their equipment in the fall and then have the winter months to assemble, paint, build hives, etc.