There are several ways in which you can start your first hive. The first order of business is to have everything (equipment) you need BEFORE getting bees. This includes a complete beehive, a hive tool, a smoker, and a bee suit. You can also buy some of the tools as a set such as This One. The beehive at the beginning can be just a single story hive. This will include a bottom board, a hive body, frames, foundation for the frames, an inner cover, and a telescoping outer cover. This is what’s usually included in starter hives. Most beekeepers start with a Langstroth style hive.
Next is placement. You need to figure out where you’re going to put your hive. Many people recommend full sun. They can go in shade but you may have problems with small hive beetles if you do indeed decide to put them in full shade. It’s doable but you’ll have better luck in full sun. Next you need level your stand. The side to side needs to be level while front to back can be slightly tilted towards the front to keep rainwater out.
Now that you have the base leveled it’s time to put your bottom board down and assemble the hive. Once assembled, check your level again. If everything looks good and you have obtained all of your equipment then it’s time to get some bees!
The three easiest ways to get bees is either order a package of bees online, buy a nuc from a local beekeeper, or catch your very own swarm. They all have their pros and cons. The packages are usually three pounds of bees with a caged, mated queen. However starting like this you are literally starting from the beginning and you’ll have to feed your bees a lot of sugar water so they will build comb. The best way is to buy a nuc or nucleus colony. This is basically an established colony that already has 5 frames of comb built up with brood, pollen, and honey and lots of bees. A nuc may be a little more expensive but you will not regret getting the jump start that a nuc provides for the season. All you have to do is transfer the 5 frames inside of your nuc into your 10 frame hive that you have already assembled, leveled, and waiting for your bees. A nuc is probably the best way to start for the new beekeeper. Their box is already loaded with all the food they need for the time being. If you get a nuc early enough they can forage for their own food and feeding is not mandatory.
Beekeeping is a great hobby and it can get as expensive as you let it. You can offset some of these expenses by building your own equipment or catching swarms. The main thing is to read all you can. Your very first book should be Beekeeping for Dummies.
It sounds intimidating at first but it's really not. Bees are fascinating creatures and it won't take long before you realize that you've just found your favorite hobby!