I'm hoping to find a beekeeper reasonably local to me to visit and shadow a bit -
Get involved with a local club. Clubs are great places to find mentors and get connected to nearby beekeepers.http://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/map/node
The family's a bit tentative about the affair...
More than likely they'll not only warm up to the idea once they see you out working the bees, they'll become enthusiastic about it.