You probably already know a bit about apiculture or you would not be here!
We offer monthly introductory courses if you are still unsure of whether you want to keep bees or not.
If you have decided you are going to keep bees here are some things to consider:
In the region of Indochina, Apis mellifera is managed using techniques imported from Taiwan about 140 years ago. I am going to try and avoid being offensively critical of this style of management, though it leaves much to be desired.
Firstly the hive at 12 frames is much too small to allow effective evaporation of the honey, it is extracted along with any brood in a completely unripe state, Killing all that brood sure discourages swarming, and the colony is always under stress, leading to a profusion of diseases and use of antibiotics and acaricides. These hives are rarely supered. They are extracted sometimes weekly and the honey dehumidified at high temperature under partial vaccuum yielding a very inferior product stripped of essential oils, enzymes and flavonoids.
These are the bees you are buying imported from Vietnam and Thailand.
You are buying colonies of culls basically, with old queens that have had all the honey removed prior to sale. The frames are different dimensions in Thailand and Vietnam, and both are different from Langstroth dimensions.
You will typically buy 6-8 frame colony from $160-$185, and some can be very productive. Just factor in the cost of flumethrin strips and the damage they do to your queen, and the fact that you will need to go to standard dimension Langstroth equipment if you want to expand. Also remember you will probably need to requeen these colonies if you want them to grow.
International management style
Generally the rest of the world uses a standard Langstroth 10 frame hive with between 10 and 20 brood frames, and supers above that. Colonies are 4 – 5 times more populous than in the local style. The additional space gives the bees less reason to swarm, and much more space to store and dehumidify honey.
I have also designed a 13 frame ventilated hive that will accept a ventilated super that is particularly effective in the Tropics.
Given that the goal of your bees is to reproduce and swarm taking 1/2 your stock with them, you need to alleviate population pressure before you see preparations for swarming.