When you are first starting out with polymer clay, one of the easiest beads to create is a stamped bead. Roll it, shape it, cut it out, and then stamp an impression in the clay with a knife, carving tool, needle, or texture sheet.
Once you start playing with different colors and shades, especially what comes out of the pasta machine, techniques such as faux wood or other simulations can be used on the beads surface.
A clay extruder comes in very handy for making repetitive designs that can then be patched together in endless ways for a mosaic like patterned bead.
A lentil is one that is created by repeated rotating of a firm surface against the clay, until the colors of the bead are swirled into a spiral pattern with subtle shading throughout.
Canes are something many polymer clay artists love to create. They envision a design, create it into a 3 dimensional shape, reduce it, and then cut thin slices and apply them to a base bead.
One of the most fascinating ways of patterning for polymer beads is the borrowed Japanese technique of Mokume Gane. It is one that starts simply, but does not show it's "look" until the surprise ending.
These are just some of the myriad techniques in the creation of polymer clay beads. Hope I have sparked your interest.