Just to weigh in on beekeeping from a non-commercial perspective. Where we live, here in NWPA European honey bees are thriving in the wild. Last year I turned down several swarms, but took 4 and did several cut out outs of native colonies, but turned down several more. I just did not have the time or the equipment to take all the swarms and cut outs offered to me. Here is my take on natural and affordable beekeeping: I like native swarms and colonies and I do not buy bees! When one considers that bees here are reproducing fairly often and that the natural colonies have had the characteristics and genetics that have encouraged them to naturally survive in this environment, I like what that offers. Considering that the queens that I get have come from colonies that are local survivors and have cross bred with 17 to 20 drones from other survival colonies, I like the genetic variations that this offers. To keep with the “local and natural” idea, I buy rough sawn local hemlock from a local Amish mill, air dry it for a couple of months, plane it and build hives, frames and other parts from this lumber, (OK it is local and at least half the price as home depot). I hope to finish building a set of rollers to mill wax foundation sheets from our own wax, especially since we do not chemically treat our bees. I also do not believe that we should be transporting the hive around, but house them year around in areas that are not exposed to pesticides and herbicides. I only wish that others with in range of our hive would stop planting GMO crops and spraying, but that will take time!
Even thought the little ladies are an invasive species that have gained a foothold here, I feel that at least we can try to work with nature rather than against nature. Even with the colonies next to our garden we still see a lot of bumble bees and the usual local bees in the garden. I feel that even though they do co-exist and compete, that by providing a more nature, health environment I think that they can all benefit.