You bring up some very good points...questions that I have as well. Our homestead is about an hour north of you in Augusta, and I have heard similar comments about the folly of starting out with only one hive. As of yet, I haven't heard much contrary to that.
I have joined the Penquis Beekeepers Association, and have gleaned many useful tidbits from the members so far. Most say that you should start out with at least 2 hives. One member who lives a mile or so down the road started with only one last year, and it survived, but some of the other members have lost a few to all of their hives this past winter. I imagine it is a numbers game. The more you have the more you can stand to loose and still come out with more than zero.
I imagine that you should be able to multiply your hives if all goes well. I am planning on setting up my nuc box as a possible swarm catch, on the off chance there might be a swarm passing through...there are quite a few beekeepers in the area.
We are planning on raising our bees as "organically" as is possible...using small cell foundation mainly, and such, haven't had much input from beeks in our area....I have already learned so much from this forum in that regard. I'm sure that all of your questions can be answered more ably by some of the veteran members here.
Plymouth Pond Farm