Oh yeah, we got dem dare FIRE ANTS, and how. Of course right now they are hardly visable because the ground is bone dry around here. We be needin' da rain.
I placed some sheets of tank steel that I have, 4.5 X 8 ' on the ground and set the hives on a stand made from 1/2 plastic drums/barrels on the steel. Drums cut in half. They are sturdy, rot proof, and mice can't dig into them. Others hives I have on gravel. The steel sheets do provide a clean area under the hives and then I can run the lawn mower around that to keep a larger area free of ant attractants like clumps of weeds that are useful to ants when they build themselves up out of the wet ground. Fire ants are great engineers. They move up and down in the soil according to temp and moisture. The drier the conditions are the deeper they go, seeming to disappear, BUT dey still be dah, oh yeah they be dah
You have to be mindful that cinder blocks are useful to fire ants as a means of elevating their colonies. Simply put the ants use them for climbing up as they build their colonies. The ants move the extracted dirt upwards especially after heavy rains. House built on slabs are sometimes invaded by those ants.
Personally, although we do have an ample supply of ants here, and how, I quit frettin' bout dem. A person can go broke just buying all that ant killin' stuff and never get rid of the ants. Like dem Armidillos, dey be heah, get use to dem.
The sheets of steel work for me. Actually sheets of anything that will last will do. Old signs made of aluminum or plastic will work. Plus having large sheets of anything under the hives lets you see how many bees die and are dropped outta da hive. You sometimes will find the wingless bees, the k-wing bees, mal formed larva, dead drones, etc etc all on the ground sheets, that you normally don't see because of the grass around the hives. The cleaning out bees grab dead or deformed bees and try to launch themselves off and usually fall in the grass 3-4 feet from the hives. With the sheets you can see all manner of bee activity, or in activity, depending if they be dead or alive.
I use screen bottoms, home made. Very simple to make. I leave the bottoms open but I do have white boards that I can slide under to block the cold or do a mite drop check.
I haven't used inner covers last year. For one, the bees glue the cover to the top box and if you use inner cover they glue that but not the cover. The cover can fly off sometimes in gusty wind but not if it's glued. Seems to have worked out. I am pretty much solo in this bee venture around here save for a couple of beehaving friends and THEY depend on me for advice
I got plenty of dem books though and I be readin'.
Let us kno how ya make out. Good luck