Get ready before you get near. Have excluder and extra hive bodies handy. Smoke entrance and the work quickly to get lid and top brood chamber off and set top brood chamber on top of empty hive body.
Bees are very adaptable creatures. Even though the breeding ground for the BeeWeaver breed has mild winters and very hot summers, that does not mean the bee will only do well in this environment. We ship our bees all over the continental US, from coast to coast, and customers from all states return to us time and again for their queen/bee needs. To encourage our breed to be able to adapt to circumstances on their own we do not manipulate/facilitate them other than what's necessary. For instance, we only feed the bees syrup when they are light.
Happily, the answer is No! Even the honey from the ancient Egyptian tombs was still edible. Honey can ferment if it is too high in moisture, thus it is important for the beekeeper to let the bees 'dry out' the honey before harvesting. Fermented honey, though, has a strong odor and there is no doubt that something is wrong. If your honey crystalizes or separates this is normal. This honey can be consumed in the crystalized state (try stirring it all together to cream your own honey) or you can gently warm the honey in a pan of warm water to return the honey to its liquid state.
The highest cost of beekeeping is the initial investment. If starting 2 hives is cost prohibitive, starting with one is fine. A second hive will mean more labor/time in working bees. Although, it will probably take longer to light the smoker then it does to make a quick queen and strength check. The advantage of starting with 2 hives is if something does go wrong with 1 hive (i.e. queenless or hungry) you have a second hive to share food and/or brood. For beginning beekeepers having a second colony can help them know if something is wrong with the first colony.
Wind may be one of the biggest issues you face. Nothing chills a hive down more than having -40 degree air blown into every crack and opening. In Vermont, we used those black corrugated hive wraps and they were life-savers for the bees. If you can't find those, black roofing paper, stapled on the hive like a big black present also works great, and breathes well so the hives don't get too moist on the inside, which can lead to water condensing on the cover and dripping onto the bees.
There are a few easy steps you can take to reduce your SHB troubles. Place your hive in the sun or nearly full sun. The small hive beetle pupates in the ground outside the hive and the hot sun will bake them. Make sure your hive is queen right and strong. If not, SHB and other pests will take full advantage of it. Using traps (some use vegetable oil) can reduce their population as well. Keep your hive free of places where beetles can hide so the bees can chase them out of their hive... no plastic frames, inner covers, or feeders that give SHB nooks and crannies to hide out.
Try these practices: