I ♥ Brushy Mtn they have awesome shipping time and price FREE shipping $100+ and if you buy a kit it would definitely be more than $100. I would say if you are the type of guy who knows how to woodwork definitely buy your own lumber and make a hive body and if your GF is artistic let her at with colorful latex/acrylic paint. I have seen some beeks with beautiful hives that have pink flowery swirls because their wife or gf wanted to paint something. You would still have to to buy the frames because those are harder to make from scratch. Anyways those kits are worth it if because they come with everything you need. Im kinda cheap and also love diy so i never bought a kit.
okay as for 10 or 8 frame it is really just a preference thing regarding weight of hive and manipulation of parts. So if your gf is gonna work on the hive and shes kinda a small gal 8 frame would ideal. I do 10 frame and a single hive body is almost 75lbs really hard to manipulate w.o upsetting bees.
I was also worried about spacing/ventilation because it is always hot in socal and if the bees feel crowded in summer/spring they will swarm away. Compared to NC (i looked at past year's worth of forecast) 8 frame would be smaller and easier to keep warm during overwintering because they would be clustered tightly together and during summer you could just add on more supers or you could split them and get another hive.
Also bees are sold separately from the kit, i've seen some reviews where people thought the bees came with the have ahahah. expect to pay about 100 dollars for a 3lbs package of bees with a queen. The black box picture by skygear looks exactly like the amount of bees you would get in a 3lbs package.
I am so jealous that your GF wants to work with bees, my gf wants nothing to do with honey bees.
@skygear your rescued hive looks really purty im so jealous, no EHB swarms encountered just yet only AHB. I stopped by a Beverages and More store and i was wondering why there was no one parking near a bush with over turned shopping cart. I opened my door and there was a AHB swarm no more than 10 feet from me hanging on the shopping. I laughed at my good fortune thank goodness AHB swarms are not as aggressive as normal