Great, beekeeping is a fantastic hobby and a great way to relax and enjoy nature at its best. Firstly, we would advise that you join a local association to get some hands on experience before you get your own colony and make sure beekeeping is for you. You can find your nearest club here:
The inital startup costs are about £500 and that gives you all the tools and equipment that you need for your first year as well as a colony of bees. There would be other equipment you will need when you extract the honey but often clubs hire them out (another reason to join) or you can borrow them between beekeeping friends, but they are not normally needed for the first year so it give you time to plan.
We have beginner kits, which give you everything that you need to get going, just add the bees:
There are many different ways to do the same task in beekeeping and there is a famous saying in the beekeeping community that you ask 3 beekeepers a question and you will get 4 different answers. This makes it difficult for a beginner to know what to do. Just remember, that in most cases there is not a right or wrong way, just a different way and its a case of finding the way that suits you and your lifestyle.
Time wise, with about 3 colonies you will need to spend about 1 hour a week doing beekeeping, either inspections on the hives themselves, recording notes or preparing equipment for use next time. You tend to spend more time in the Spring and Summer months attending the bees and the Winter months is when you can get everything prepared ready.