Why aren't you keeping bees already? There's only so many excuses, you'll eventually run out of them. Listen up:
Bees pollenate your stuff. Your garden will be awesome with bees.
Bees make honey. They frickin' make honey!
Bees make beeswax. Free beeswax!
Beekeeping gives you instant homesteader cred.
Now look here: some bees out there are having a hard time staying alive and without them, we are entirely fucked. Sure, there are other insects that pollenate but hey: aren't you listening? Bees, okay? Bees are awesome. So there's that.
Honey is absolutely amazing and delicious. If you can generate your own honey, then you are also amazing and delicious by association. What could possibly taste better than your own organic, home-produced honey?
Beeswax. I make soap. My most amazing recipe requires honey and beeswax. Best soap ever. So I can use all the beeswax I can get. That stuff can be expensive. You can make candles too, though you probably knew that. Also useful as a wood and leather conditioner. Or you can sell it.
As well as all that, bees are cool, beehives are cool, and having and running your own hive is admirable, impressive stuff. Hives can be uber-fashionable additions to any garden.
But bees sting right? Sometimes. But cats scratch and dogs bite. See where I'm going with this? You take intelligent precautions, and you won't get stung even once.
If you want to keep bees, you're going to have to read a little. There are also basic beekeeping courses you can take. Now, beekeeping isn't rocket surgery, but there's a minimum requirement of education you'll be better off with.
There are a ton of beekeeping associations around the UK. They don't make a lot of noise so you might not be aware they even exist. Here in Aberdeen, there's the Aberdeen & District Beekeepers Association. As usual, an Aberdonian organisation comes up with an awful title for itself. Their website lists free courses you can take and current info on the latest local happenings.
In fact, on January 19th 2010, they're running beginners' classes. It's a seven week course. you don't even need to enrol, you just show up at Aberdeen Grammar School at 7:30pm. I can't think of a better opportunity to learn what you need to know to get started. If you want to know more, check out their website.
Beekeeping can be very simple. You don't need to go out there and buy an asston of expensive equipment to get started. Anyone who tells you that you have to is a liar. However, you will obviously require a hive. You could find one second hand or, if you can find plans for one, you can build one. But where are you going to find plans? The Scottish Beekeeper's Association have free plans on their site for various styles of hive. Other specialized equipment can be found online for reasonable prices. Some of that too, you can make yourself.
You haven't the time to attend a course? Well, here's a free beginner's course (pdf file) you can read on when you have the time.
Now. I've told you that bees are awesome. I've told you where you can get a free education. I've linked you up. Go get those bees. And keep them.
If you just want to watch other people keeping bees and doing lots of interesting bee work, check out the Backwards Beekeepers blawg. YouTube has a lot of info too, as you'd expect.
For those guys in Arkansas who read this, check out this link to every beekeeping association in the State.