If you are interested in beginning beekeeping this year, these are our general recommendations.
Bees: Unless you are getting them from a well considered source with known history, we don't recommend nucs. Get a package of bees from a reputable source. Our friend George drives them up from Rossman...between the source and the delivery, we feel these to be a good value.
We will provide virgin queens from our stock to our students later in the season for requeening and/or splitting into nucleus colonies.
Equipment: Mann Lake offers free shipping, which makes it hard to beat. For convenience, we will include their information for what we recommend, there may be better vaules elsewhere, and there are some local outlets as well.
Woodenware: We use woodenware from Humble Abodes in Windsor, Maine (or we build it ourselves). We generally buy the budget grade, and have never been disappointed. Shipping on woodenware is generally high, so if you are ordering everything at once, you might do better with Mann Lake.
Bottom Board: 1 for each colony...an extra is handy. http://www.humbleabodesinc.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=17&zenid=612e614697f41705c345701ba1f4c464
Boxes: Pick either deep (9 1/2") or medium (6 5/8") boxes. For each colony you plan to start, get 3 deeps or 4 mediums. An extra or two won't hurt, and will come in handy.
Inner Cover: 1 for each colony...an extra is handy: http://www.humbleabodesinc.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=23
Telescoping Cover: 1 for each colony....an extra is handy: http://www.humbleabodesinc.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=20
Frames: Get deep or medium to match your boxes. 10 per box (get 10 for each box you are purchasing, even if you buy some plastic frames as detailed below). Specify groove top if you are going to use foundationless (our recommendation) or plastic foundation, or wedge top if you are going to use wax foundation.
Stuff from Mann Lake:
Get 10 or 20 PF frames per colony, sized for the boxes you are getting. We prefer the black (it is easier to see eggs), but remember, it is dark in the hive...the bees don't care. Make sure to get these and not the more expensive rite-cell frames...the PF frames are small cell, and will regress your bees.
Smoker: Any of the smokers offered by Mann Lake, or most other vendors are fine.
Hive Tool: Ramona prefers the giant hive tool, but this "hook" style was developed in Massachusetts (at Maxant), and is handy. http://www.mannlakeltd.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=mannlake&Screen=DISP_INFO&Product_Code=HD-620&ajax=true
Veil: Our best recommendation is the ventilated jacket and veil from Mann Lake. It isn't much more expensive than other options, but is more stingproof, and is ventilated so you can feel safe _and_ cool around the bees.
The economy jacket is about half the price:
Please start at least two hives...it really makes everything easier.
Golden Rule Honey