budget: $75 per package of bees, $150 per hive, $10 viel, $10 hive tool, $25 smoker. don't forget your shipping costs!! get a good book, A Guide to Beekeeping or Beekeeping for Dummies will do. Check the links page and visit some of those sites to lear and for suppliers. Plants: forsythia is a good early bloomer, clover is a good nectar crop, as is buckwheat, fruit trees, and more. I'm not planting for my bees, as they will find flowers on their own. we have clover mixed in in the horse paddocks, and well-blooming forsythia at the neighbor's (she must fertilize it or something...) between these crops, the bees will find other flowers on which to forage. I wouldn't worry about carrying capacity... as long as there are flowers around somewhere all the time (yes this includes maple flowers and black locust flowers, another good honey crop) your bees will do fine. the amount of honey fluctuates according to how the weather impacts the bees' foraging abilities and nectar production in plants, along with colony strength of your bees. you are better buying new supplies, because then you can be sure it has no diseases. I spend about a half hour per hive per week once it is up and running. justgojumpit and hey, welcome to the forum!