As you may know, I have two bee hives. I rent the hives from my friend as I learn all about how to take care of them on my own. I go to the monthly bee association meetings too and they are very helpful. (Find one and join if you are at all interested in this hobby). If you are thinking of taking care of bees and their hives take the time to learn all you can from reading and find an experienced bee keeper to talk to and pick their brain.
credit: bee topography
Here are 7 basic tips for getting started in bee keeping.
1) Start with new equipment of standard design and dimension. Used equipment has the potential to create problems that a beginner is not prepared to recognize or handle. The wood may not be of good quality, there could be existing disease, etc.
2) Do not experiment during the first year or two. I am renting the hives because I want to learn and have someone in the know there helping me know what I need to and do it correctly. I learn better from watching rather than reading a book. (However, every book I have read on the subject has been fascinating so far). Even with help, my first year was a little rough.
3) Don't run out and buy every piece of clothing available for bee keeping. You may be able to wear long pants and long sleeves and the hat with a veil. My 'bee-man' has worn shorts. I am more careful. ;)
4) Start with Italian bees. They are standard in the US and pretty common. They are also more docile.
5) Start with 2 colonies if you can. You can compare the hives and see what is going on if one is having issues. If things go well, you could double the honey too. ;)
6) Start early in the season. I started in March as the weather is good here that time of year. You can find out your 'season' by checking with hive inspectors or local beekeepers. I am in Florida and have a long season.
7) Know that your hives will not produce much honey the first year. I lost my queen soon after I got my hive and that alone threw off the production for my year. At the end of the season, however, I was able to get some honey and it was delicious!!
My Orange Blossom "comb" honey
There are so many things to know and learn. There are many books at the library on the subject so check them out. Bees need our help! They need people to take care of them and help them thrive again. Their numbers have declined drastically over the last few decades. They pollinate our crops and provide healthy food that humans have been eating for centuries. They are worth saving. :)
Please make sure you are not allergic to bees before starting this adventure!