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I'm always amazed at how many people express interest in beekeeping. The single most common reason we hear for not getting started is not knowing how to go about it. The best advice we can offer is to seek out and join a local beekeeping club or association. Books are great, but there is no better resource for a new beekeeper than other beekeepers. 
Reasons for starting are as diverse as beekeepers themselves. Some keep bees for the pure fun and education; some for the  honey, beeswax and other honey bee products; some for the pollination. Ask yourself this question..."what is the purpose of my bees?"  The answer will help you decide if you really want to start, and if you do, how to best manage your bees and meet your goals.
When we considered starting beekeeping, these questions loomed in our minds: 1) Will I hurt the bees? 2) What about those "killer bees"? 3) How much time will this take? 3) What will it cost?  Here is what we found...
The biggest mistake new beekeepers make trying to take care of their bees is this... they simply try too hard. Honey bees have lived for thousands of years in wild colonies without our help. They already have it figured out. They are not infant children needing 24 hour care. Rule of thumb... follow 4 or 5 universal principles of beekeeping, resist the urge to open the hive more than absolutely necessary, and let the bees do the rest.   
"Killer Bees" are a problem, however not nearly as big as you may think. People in the southwest USA may think this is an understatement.  However, "Killer Bees", like many beekeeping challenges, is a regional issue. Beekeepers in your area will be happy to talk about their bees and problems common in your area... back to the local club or association. Whenever getting advice from a beekeeping book, determine where the author keeps his bees. Authors generally write books based on their own experiences. Beekeeping in Arizona is certainly different than beekeeping here in New Hampshire.
Beekeeping, like any hobby, can take as much time as you are willing to devote to it. Here are some minimum numbers for the first year when you are establishing your first colony:
     Assembly and preparation of your hive: 6 hours
     Installation of a NUC or package of bees: 2 hours
     Hive inspections/feeding during the first month: 4 hours
     Hive inspections/maintenance remainder of 1st year: 10 hours
This estimate does not include reading/study time or time spent in a beginner beekeeping class (which we strongly recommend).  It also doesn't include time you'll spend just sitting near your hive, fascinated, watching the bees come and go.  
And of course, cost. Depending on which "options" you choose, you can plan on spending $300-$500 getting started with your first colony. Subsequent colonies are significantly less. True cost varies depending on many factors. Do you like gadgets or must you have the latest and greatest of everything; or is keeping start-up costs within budget important? Do you want to start with a package or NUC of bees ? Do you want a Langstroth type or Top-bar hive?  Are you handy enough to construct some of your own hive parts or plan to purchase one complete? The list goes on and on.  And don't forget maintenance costs. We recommend you budget about $100 per year for one colonies' maintenance. 
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