I need an extra, just-in-case hive, which means I need to invest in tops and bottoms. I also want to convert my existing hives to top entrances, as we get a lot of ice here in the winter, often combined with snow, which leads to treacherous conditions. I travel a lot so I could be out of town when a bad storm hits (I should be so lucky!). Also, we have skunks.
I've read Michael Bush's site on top entrances. I get the tops, but I don't get the bottoms.
1. For a new hive, can I just buy a slatted bottom board, put #8 screening on it, and set the whole hive up on bricks (is it really that easy)? Will the hive stay warm enough in a few days of zero degree (F) weather, and a lot of days with temperatures in the teens, or will I need to do something to the bottom in winter? With this setup, what is the easiest way to do a mite count in Fall, or is there one?
2. For existing hives, I have a screened bottom board that fits inside a solid bottom board (no slide out drawer). Come winter, can I just seal the entrance at the bottom or is there a preferable (and easy) way to convert the screen+solid bottom board? I think if I seal the entrance, there won't be any ventilation from the bottom.
3. Do you drill holes in the front of each super for added ventilation and escape hatches? Would this be just for supers above the brood box?
4. Lastly, I'm no carpenter. We have a lot of tools, but I need to keep it simple.