Is there a minimum or maximum number of hives you would recommend? How many hives do you have and are they all Warre as in the photo? I was told once one should (there's that word again) always have at least 2 hives if one is going to have any hives.
Furthering Permaculture next to Lake Ontario.
Valerie, I think it's a good idea to start out with 2 hives. You can better observe how they are doing and if one is thriving and the other not, you can check the slower one. In some situations, you may even want to give the slower hive a frame of brood from the strong hive to help them out. I don't, as a rule, tinker much with them but it's nice to have the option.
And if at all possible, get swarms that are local rather than ordering bees shipped in from far away places. Local bees understand our weather and cycles and are more tuned to them.
One thing to be aware of -- have interchangeable equipment so a frame from one hive fits the other. Oh, I can't tell you how many times I've wished someone had made me understand that! I have maybe TWO hives that I can interchange equipment on, that's all. Everything else is different. Even my warres and top bars are all different types and sizes.
Pick one and stick with it for a long time. Experiments can come later. Much later.