I was talking to a good friend of mine who has raised bees for years and from what I understand has even had articles written about his beekeeping. I mentioned that I was interested in maybe getting a hive started next spring and he said, "Don't buy anything." Then he went on to explain that he is downsizing his operation to about 40% of he was running in the past. He had several hive boxes and equipment he would give me along with a hive of bees to get me started next spring.
That turned out to be a nice phone conversation with an old friend.