I ordered two packages directly from the breeder I received bees from last year (skipping the middleman) at $57 each, plus queen marking and shipping. They're for insurance, mainly.
My six hives seemed pretty strong going into the cold weather (even the two late summer splits), and they stored away plenty of syrup. Plus I did menthol treatments and oxalic vapor and put a sugar board on top of each. I haven't seen much flying though, but that's not really surprising. We haven't had weather quite as warm in our area like you've been having, John -- mostly no more than the mid 40s, if that. And I've been away from the house most days for the past few weeks too (working and traveling), so I'm not around much to check them in the mid-afternoon. Those in the field yesterday told me there were some flying, though.
I also had a bit of a skunk problem. It tore the black paper on front of one hive and started gnawing at the rear bottom of another hive box where the SBB tray slides in. I braced up the chewed section with a piece of 2X4 and haven't seen any more problem.
My thinking is that a couple package will insure that even if all the hives die (I hope not), I'll still have a couple to work with this spring. When they survive though :D , I'll have a couple more to work with! And after I split a few . . . well, I've been working evenings in the woodshop, too.