Re: Am I on the right track?
Just my two cents worth: I got a frame grip and get a lot of use out of it. I wear gloves, so it makes it much easier to get a grip. For a hive tool, I really like the ones with a "J" shape on the end--they are excellent for prying out the frames when the bees glue them to the frame rests with propolis. Regarding queen excluders, I have never used one and never needed one. A couple came with the equipment I bought, and they have sat in a shed for a dozen years. And save up some corrugated cardboard, the plain brown kind with no ink and no tape, to roll up and use for smoker fuel. A smoker giving you trouble is a hassle when you are new to bees (and all other times too). I found the cardboard to be the most reliable smoker fuel. Some people recommend pine needles--I don't have them so I don't know. Also, not to confuse things, but I am switching over to all 8-frame mediums and wish I had started that way. Of course I haven't done it yet so it's just an idea.
Good luck and welcome to beekeeping.
Hobbyist beekeeper since 2002