I had 8 colonies of my own this year plus my son brought 24 colonies and set them down on my lot. We have not robbed his bunch yet. They have done excellent as they were in California last winter and were built up strong when they arrived here. They were filling supers while mine were still building up. If I remember, I will report how they did after we get that job done.
3 of his went queenless, and did not produce but the remainder have done well.
I actually started beekeeping 40 years ago. I still am using some of the original frames and boxes I started with. That first box is looking like its time for retirement, but at present it still has bees in it. If I could pro-rate the cost of that box, (it didn't cost near what they do today) It would not be much per year.
I have broken and retired some boxes and frames, and burned some one time because of disease, (American Foulbrood) and lost some frames because of wax moths, but overall the equipment lasts a long time if taken care of. I am a carpenter by trade and built most of my boxes over the years. I even tried making my own frames, but it is a lot of work and I decided to just buy them.
Mind you, I am not a big commercial beekeeper. The most I have ever had at one time was 13 colonies.
My son, who has bees, has around 250 colonies, and works them spare time. He had an unusual event happen that threw him into the bee biz big time. He had a couple of colonies and was close friends to the Sheriff. Well, a big truck load of 300 colonies wrecked and the bees were scattered up the side of the road. The Sheriff knowing son knew about bees, called him to come pick them up. So he did and hauled them to a lot and then sent a bill to the insurance co. The insurance co paid the owner of the bees for the bees as a total loss, and when they got son's bill they asked him if he would like to own the bees for his time. So he ended up owner of those bees. (what was left of them)
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-