What do I basically need to start b keeping in SE WI? And what would it cost roughly?
When I got into this hobby several years back I joined the local bee club...glad I did. Lots of good advise for your area. The best advise for a newbie I got was to get brand new equipment....this ensures you for disease free start, going with two packages of bees [two hives] is a good way to go, then you have another hive for comparison.
Here we go with two deep [brood] hive boxes, using 10 frames
each. Two boxes for honey super [box], 10 frames each, you
can use the all plastic frames or get the wooden frames and
put them together yourself....I glue them also, then you can
pop in the plastic foundation....this system seems to be the preferred way amongst bee keepers here. You need bottom board and or screen board, [helps for mite population] and hive cover, telescoping cover...you'll find out pricing in your local supply store.
Are you handy? I built a top bar hive for myself for well under $100.
I will second annpat's suggestion. If you are handy you will find top bar plans on the net. You might find a mentor through your local beekeeping associations. The first thing to consider is your goal (local honey, pollination, bee-watching, saving the planet, whatever). This may guide you in your quest for equipment & mentors. It's too easy to be distracted by other folks' decisions without realizing their goals are different from yours -- or they don't know quite as much as they think they do! Meet 10 beekeepers, you'll hear 14 opinions.....entertaining yet confusing! Be aware too that some longtime beekeepers are perpetuating myths! They may be characters with a lot of experience but listen closely to a lot of sources before investing time and energy in one path. Maybe get yourself invited to visit/help beekeepers with different approaches.
This is my first year beekeeping. I was guided to start with 2 Langstroths. Luckily for me I only invested in one. My hive is thriving & I am already planning to move to top bar.
Spend lots of time reading, participating in bee forums, attending bee association meetings, looking ahead regarding your goals and possible equipment/practices. Langstroth is by far the most common yet it is becoming clear to me it would be the last choice for most hobby beekeepers if they knew what they were getting into and if warre, top bar, long bar were as readily available. Be aware that because most beekeepers use Langstroth it may be difficult at first to compare other equipment. Once you find the right mentors, more will be revealed!
As for cost, as you understand the concepts you will find ways to make your equipment affordable. For inspiration on beekeeping in a sustainable, commonsense, affordable way, check out Michael Bush. I'm linking a page from his gift of a website. His brand new book is featured on the front page but in no way is this guy selling stuff so please don't be put off! He even tells you all the info is free on his website but I suspect the book would be handy bedside -- or hive-side.
Good luck! Bees are relaxing & beekeeping is wonderfully addictive.
Here is a link that might be useful: Michael Bush website
ssadams as was said above ten beeks ten different lines on how to do it LOL!!Well here's my two cents in your locality I would go with either two deep hivebodys per hive or three mediums same bee space just not as heavy as a deep full of honey and brood.also look around and if somebody local sells nucs(5 frames of bees and brood and drawn comb with a laying queen)it will cost you more money up front but will pay in the long run.As said before read up I read a year before I got my first hives and am still amazed on how little we know of these young ladys.