Re: What start-up equipment to buy?
For a beginners kit, make your own.
box sizes? that's a personal preference item, I use 8 frame deeps but am changing to 8 frame deeps on bottom single box with all 8 frame mediums above.
I use plastic foundation, but bees like foundationless or wax foundation much better. I'll be changing to foundationless, at least some, this year. I am lazy and don't want to spend the time to wire or fishing line in wax so am choosing foundationless as frames need replacing.
get a box or two more than you think you need and get an extra top and bottom boards. You'll be glad you did.
Get at least one queen excluder, you'll end up needing them but maybe not for what you might think. They come in handy for different reasons.
And oh, a map gas torche really makes lighting the smoker a breeze!
20+ years, raise my own queens, feed when needed, I treat but have not perfected varroa management yet.