>First, my friend says that I can forget about making any surplus honey with those new hives the first year. Is this true?
Some packages will and some won't make a surplus. It's not generally expected.
> If so, we will still move forward, but with the knowledge that the first year is a throw-away year.
That would be my plan and then if they make a surplus you can enjoy it.
>My next question is, since I am starting from scratch with these hives, will I be okay to go with the Mann Lake PF120 frames?
I've had good luck with them.
> I hope the bees will accept it. These hives will be about 75 miles away from home and I will probably visit them once a month. How does this play into my decisions?
If they have no where to expand except the PF120s they will most likely use them fine.
>Next, packaged bees or nucs? There seem to be more apiaries selling packages than nucs, and the nucs seem much more expensive.
If you're intent is to try to get small cell, and the nucs aren't small cell, you'll be ahead to get the packages. If you don't care, you'll be ahead to get the nucs.
> Also, the package bees come in three, four and five pound swarms. Is there any advantage in buying a larger swarm?
Three will work fine.
> If I have a hive all set up, then what advantage is a nuc box?http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm
Go to the "what nucs are good for" section.
> Will I get honey this year if I go with a five pound swarm over a three or four pound?
It won't make a significant difference.
>does having them in a nuc create problems for putting them in plastic frames?
No. It's not whether there are wax and plastic, but whether there is any other space for them to fill. If the only space they have is plastic foundation, they usually fill it fine.