After some research (which included an assessment of my finances and other resources)I've decided to set up top bar hives next spring. Phil Chandler's book,The Barefoot Beekeeper, convinced me that it is possible to start out with such a hive and with a little more information gathered from the good people on his top bar hive forum I'm on my way. After my partner's art show opening next week, she and I will begin building two top bar hives. I already have my eye on an unused flower pot that will make an excellent nuc as well.
On the sabbatical front, the first draft of my proposal has received good reviews from some trusted colleagues. I even have one offer to help out.