All over the world, people keep bees using a variety of methods. One that is popular in Africa, and other developing countries, is the top-bar hive. Honey production is lower, but so is the startup cost.
There are some design students in New Zealand that have an interesting concept for a hive like this. It is a flat-pack design that is CNC machined, called the Bee Crib. I can see this being mass-produced and available just about anywhere, for almost nothing. Ikea immediately comes to mind as one of the first places this will show up; due to its flat-pack design, of course.
Since I have a hard time getting bees to stop by my container garden, perhaps I should raise some myself. Now, if only I knew where to get one of these babies.