George Imrie, along with others, claim cold weather doesn't kill a healthy colony of bees. Insulating the hive reduces the heat the bees must produce, and in turn, reduces the amount of food they need to generate heat. Insulating the hive can also keep it from warming up on a marginal day, so it becomes a management style that you will have to weigh the benefits of personally. There are frequently beekeepers that claim their bees died from the long cold winter. But many of us believe there is a problem other than cold that killed them. Whether it is tracheal mites choking them, PMS and colony collapse from the vorroa mites, Nosema or dysentary from poor food source, or starvation.
Selection of bees is important for climate, and while many cold climate beekeepers swear by Carnolians (smaller winter clusters, less stores consumed, fast spring buildup) it's hard to go wrong with banded Italians. They've been around for a long time, they are normally a gentle, easily handled bee, and given a chance, make a pretty good honey crop. Some things you are going to just have to try for yourself and see how they work into your style of beekeeping.
As a field biologist, getting a timeline like the one George has produced, and adjusting his style for the flows and sesaonal changes where you will be keeping your bees should lead to a great beekeeping experience for you.