I have a few questions about starting up. Maybe they should be in separate posts, but here they all are anyway. . .
Is the race of bee important for location you are in and is it best (as I suspect) to get bees that are acclimated to your region regardless of race?
The race of bee can be a factor, condiser:
Black German bees hare from Northern Europe but have a reputation of being rather hot.
Italians are from Southern Europe (the mediterrainian) and a warmer weather bee.
Carnoilans are from East Central Europe and a colder climate then Italians but not necessarially as cold as Black Germans.
Russians are from Western Russian, this is the area where the German Army practically froze to death during WWII, they are definitely cold weather bees.
Caucasian bees are from the Odessa (Black Sea) area of Russian and the strain most commonly found the upper Middle East of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. They are more or a warm weather bee.
With all that said, any bee can be aclimatized to local conditions. It takes about 3 years of survival so if a person were to start with 100 hives the 1st year and didn't split he would probably loose 50-60% the 1st winter, and 30-40 percent the second winter and 5-20% the third winter, the 5-20% being considered an typical seasonal loss.
I am obviously looking to having the greatest rate of success, so is it preferential to obtain a package or a nuc to start with? I would think the nuc would be best since the bees are established, but are there any difficulties or issues inherent to the transfer/installation that would make it less then desirable for a beginner.
Nucs are the best way to start, if you can obtain them, they are not always available and delivery is usually much more local due to the amount of bees, combs, and hive structure involved.
Packages are artificial swarms, as are splits, that can be shipped much easier since it is just the bees. This is the typical way of obtaining a start in beekeeping. The other ways are buying a split from a local beekeeper (a good option) or catching a swarm (chancy).
Having said that, I am basically looking for 'relatively' local suppliers for my first attempt. However, I do not usually get home in a timely manner to contact these people via telephone. I have been relying on emails to various regional suppliers, but time is a factor I realize. I am able to get on the net long enough to post on a forum while at work, but I cannot usually get near a phone to make outside calls...go figure
So after all that, does anyone have advice as what action to take?
Find local beekeepers near you. contact the Nearest Extention agent who should have name and numbers of the officers of the local Beekeeping Association. Read and research forums such as this and look at the various online beekeeping catalogs and suppliers for information. Decide on the type of equipment (8 or 10 frame, deep or medium, etc) and then buy it in such numbers to obtain quantity discounts, which can often save the amount of shipping costs.
Look at: Mann Lake Ltd, Dadant, Walter Kelly, Miller Bee Supply, Betterbee, Western Bees, Sky Blue Bee Supply, Ruhl Bee Suuply, Sol Bee Supply, etc. Look for major supppliers that might have branch offices near you and loock for mom and pop operations near by. Often clubs make up a Yearly package by and you might be able to get in on that as it will save you bucks in shipping and quantity. They do this for package bees and equipment both.