I've outlined what I believe to be a recipe for beekeeping success. Look back for improvements.
First order of business is to know you'll get stung occasionally. I have on hand a homeopathic remedy to help with swelling called Apis Mel 30c. I got it from Whole Foods Market. (Homeopathy is FDA regulated and approved).
You can study some great videos on beekeeping here: http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/Resources/Videos.asp
Great free intro information: http://extension.psu.edu/business/ag-alternatives/livestock/additional-livestock-options/beekeeping
Becoming a member of an association allows you to make friends and learn regional techniques. The associations for this region are: KS: http://www.nekba.org/ and MO: http://www.midwesternbeekeepers.org/. I most often purchase bee supplies from local dealers who support our associations. At harvest time, you can rent an expensive extractor from Robert Hughes, who's contact information is at http://www.beekeepers.com/.
You can build your own boxes and save some money and enjoy a little woodworking. I like making bottom boards out of scraps because I like to customize them (see my plans in build your own).
For supplies, I like to order locally from beekeepers.com. Otherwise, you can buy from Mann Lake because they ship orders over $100 for free. The first season you can go with two hive bodies and then work up to three hive bodies to give bees extra storage room. Three hive bodies make it is less likely I expend effort feeding and makes for a bigger colony for production. You can start with two honey supers that support a harvest of 5 gallons of honey (average for this area). I believe used equipment is fine to save money if you can locate some in good condition. (Beware there is a risk of disease transmission if the equipment was contaminated and is not cleaned properly with chlorine bleach).
I've gathered this following hardware list from Mann Lake (http://www.mannlakeltd.com/):
Look for a starter kit that includes these items:
Telescoping Cover with Inner Cover (WW-301)
Deep hive body (WW-600)
Small Cell Plastic foundation with wood frames (PF100_b)
Hive bottom (WW-312)
Boardman Entrance Feeder (FD-100)
Beetle Blasters (DC-685)
Beetle Blaster Oil (DC-687)
Medium hive body (WW-605)
Small Cell Plastic foundation with wood frames (PF120_b)
Beekeeping Suit Kit (CL-180)
Hive tool (HD-620)
Bee Brush (HD-660)
Use these in place of honey super frames shown above:
These are perfect for honey supers as they will never be destroyed by wax moths or be blown out by over-spinning in the extractor: Also, bees can begin storing honey in them immediately without using honey to draw them out-- which leaves more honey for harvesting. Order here: http://www.simpsonsbeesupply.com/
Bees can be can be ordered from beekeepers.com. I prefer to acquire local swarms and provide extra hive equipment to allow for more natural selection of local, successful bees.
. A good bee supplier can save you grief of spending time on an unproductive colony if you don't want to spend the money on having extra hives.
If you're a computer enthusiast like me, you might enjoy keeping track of your bees online at hivetracks.com (see video instruction here).
An interesting part of beekeeping is the art involved. For example, the effectiveness of using "small cell beekeeping" is disputed. It's common knowledge bees were artificially enlarged back in the early 1900's. It's thought that regressing bees back to their original size helps them be healthier, and many have proven success in their endeavors. For an introduction, visit http://www.BushFarms.com.
You might enjoy subscribing to an organic beekeeper's email list at Organicbeekeepers@yahoogroups.com. You can sort through the wonderful world of the eccentric beekeepers and develop your own success formula. I started with the proven track record of commercial operations and then started developing my own methods.
Treating your bees for Varroa mite is essential.
I finally lost no bees last winter. I used an organic method of treating my bees. It is an oxalic acid vaporizer from the following source:
Feeding Bees is only necessary when they don't have enough food and you don't want the natural selection process run its course. You can use the following methods over the winter:
Make a candy board for overwintering honey bees
www.plantersseed.com (local to Kansas City)