First, find a local beekeeper and ask a butt ton of questions.
Then buy a book about beginning beekeeping and read the words off the pages.
Then you'll have enough information to decide to get a hive.
You may even talk a beekeeper to place a hive in your yard...sort of a "foster Hive"...It would be HIS hive but YOU take care of it and you get some of the honey in return for the PRIVILAGE of having a hive in your yard.
Bees are like pets. take care of them and you are rewarded with honey. Neglect them and they can get nasty...or just pack up and leave (swarm) leaving you with a weak hive and NO HONEY in the middle of the season.
You can get the hive body measurements from an internet search it's not rocket science but the measurements are specific to fit the standard size wax frames.
I strongly suggest ordering the frames that hold the wax (and the wax) from a supplier, they are a standard size.
Storebaught frames are easy to glue and nail together but its a nightmare to try and cut lumber into the tiny pieces to make hommade frames. you can even buy them pre made, all you have to do is install the wax.
Look for plans to build a standard langstroth hive.
Make one deep hive body for the brood-queen-and most of the bees. Then later in the season as the bees multiply, add a super as needed. the super is where the bees put YOUR honey. You'll also need a queen excluder to keep the queen from laying eggs in the super where YOUR honey is. If she sees an empty cell she'll lay an egg in it.
Another option that i think is cheaper is TOP BARR method. I don't know much about it but there's lots of internet stuff to look at. It seems to be less dead set on a standard size, and the bees do what bees do all on their own.
above all buy a book and read read read read read read. !!!!!!!
we are friends with a beekeeper, and my husband finally got his first hive this week after a few years of reading and learning... there is still lots more to figure out! Storey Publishing has some great books on beekeeping, so check out their web site. Otherwise, I agree - find someone who does it and ask a TON of questions!!!!
Our friend is on speed dial right now since we got this new swarm in the hive.
If you are really hands on and want plans for a lot of equipment, go to www.beesource.com. They have plans to build bottom boards, hive bodies, frames, wax melters, and a lot more. Just click on the "build it yourself" link on the left side of the page. Be extra careful with the measurements though, you have to keep proper bee space, if you are short on a measurement the bees will glue things together, if you are long you will have a lot of burr comb. Its a bit of a hassle getting everything cut and put together when you are first starting, but the hive should last you many years and you will not have to go through the "getting started" stage again. Getting equipment put together in my opinion is the hardest part, after that there is very little labor, your girls will take care of that for you.