I got my first (used) hive from an elderly gentleman last spring (2009), and after putting in a new batch of Italian bees, left me on my own. I had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully a wonderful mentor has been willing to give me a hands-on education, and I was able to extract some first year honey last fall. Believe me, I SAVORED every spoonful of that and cannot wait for spring so I can check on my girls again. They've already had a few flights out this winter on unseasonably warm days.
I've been reading about different hives, top bar, warre, etc. and am planning on keeping the one I have (framed). Unfortunately, the bottom board is one piece with the brood box (I realize I may be getting some of these vocabulary words wrong), so I am considering buying a (new) different one with a screened bottom this spring. I may purchase a second hive, also.
I am looking forward to gleaning from all of your experiences. Thank you for the opportunity to learn.