My plan, which has been hatching over the last couple months, was to read a lot, accumulate the necessary equipment, and then start a couple hives next spring. These plans have taken a lurch forward (maybe).
It would seem that a swarm of honeybees has taken residence in an empty roosting box we have set up a tree in the woods by our driveway. They spent about three days clustered heavily on the front surface, but now seem to be mostly either inside or out working.
The woman at the honey store in town opined that they wouldn't survive the winter in a box that size (about 8" by 8" by 24" high), but we could try giving them a hive. Even if it didn't work out (i.e. they might not take to the hive, and even if so, might not have time to build enough reserves for winter), we would still have learned something and be ready for next spring.
I probably can't get a hive before the weekend, so for now I'm mulling my options. And watching the bees.