Thanks for all the great advice! I bought the honey initially for us to use, as I still hadn't made up my mind on getting bees this year (although I have dreamed of having my own hives for quite a while), but thought if I did, then it might be better than sugar water so was going to give up us eating it for them. Now I'm glad to hear that we get to eat it all! :-D
As I said, my greatest fear is that I would screw up and kill the bees. It's not that death is a stranger. Anyone that has ever raised livestock has had to face losing animals. I just don't want it to be because of something I did, or else didn't do but should have done.
I'm not so much as worried about the cost factor, as I've spent more for less such as for tickets to attend renowned operas, and I already have enough budgeted and set aside for two complete hives, allowing extra just in case there was something I forgot that the bees just have to have. To me, it just makes good sense to start out with a minimum of two hives. Like with livestock, I try to schedule breedings/hatching so that I have at least two due around the same time. That way if I have a mom that can't raise her baby(ies) for whatever reason, I can foster the young on to the other mother. But if I don't have another mom ready, things become more difficult. Somehow I don't think it would work to try and bottle raise bees. :-D But I would like to have enough knowledge to not only see my first two survive, but for them to actually do well enough to divide at a later date. Oh, and I just found a beek just a half hour or so away that has a few 3# pkgs of Italians each with a Min Hyg queen for just under $100 per pkg! Although they won't be ready until mid-April. But hopefully that will give me plenty of time to get my woodwork purchased and all set up. I don't plan on getting the big bee suit and all toots and it's whistles. I think I will do fine with just one of my LS white shirts and my white trousers, and just buy a veil, smoker, a hive tool and a brush. And if I use gloves at all, it will probably use latex gloves (already have a few boxes of those) rather than buy thick, bulky bee gloves. And yes, I have epi pens. I guess I'm what people nowadays would call a prepper, what with being prepared for just about any emergency. Having lived without without electricity or indoor plumbing for a while when growing up (and mentally/physically prepared to do it again if the need arises), I've always just thought of being prepared for whatever comes was just plain ol' common sense and country living. Getting into raising bees has been a long time in coming and I've been reading everything I can get my hands on them, and putting together a 3-ring binder of notes that I've taken from various posts on this forum and other experienced beekeepers.
I have to say, this is both exciting and apprehensive...like when waiting for kids to be born. And I'm really looking forward to this new adventure!