My search for wood continues down here in East Sussex. Options so far are:
1) Pine sheet material - 2" strips glue together side by side
2) Redwood tongue and groove - comes up a little small but is supposed to be better outside - less warping
3) Various pine T&G, half the price of the redwood but more prone to warp?
Is there any problem in using 1) as it is not ply and I can get it in the right size. Otherwise it is the Redwood 5 3/4" T&G and I will have to stick two together.
Have costed material based on pine T&G and it is coming out at around £70?
I built my first hive from Wickes t&g floorboards, and it's now over a year old and has given no problems - since then I've found pine planks at Heathfield Market (on Tuesdays) - I'd suggest gluing planks, and letting them set overnight, then building the hive to save any warping from the wood if left to dry out further.
Many people use ply for the followers as they act as the "template" for the whole hive, and won't warp - I've found "gravel boards" from Scats to be perfect for the legs, they're already treated, so no good for the body of the hive, but perfect for standing on (one gravel board at £6 will do the legs for two TBHs)
Entrances seem to be a bit of a moot point at present. Most ready made ones come with end entrances, Phil Chandler recommends low down side entrances but has recently trialled a high side entrance to reduce Varroa dropping onto bees coming into the hive but has a cunning gizmo to lower the entrance externally
My two hives pictured have end entrances at bottom.. No real problems with them so far.
I'll try next hive with side entrances... I looked at Phil's idea: with the amount to drone and rubbish removal going on now, I think top entrances are a "bad thing" but Michael Bush would disagree...
I can only speak as I find - I've used the long-recommended "centre" entrance holes with no landing stage - I haven't tried the experimental entrance as mentioned, and have found that the simple approach works well on mine - at present all three tbhs have their 3 entrance holes closed to one bee size (done by the bees themselves as a wasp defence) - I've found they do that in winter too...
For anyone trying a tbh for the first time, I'd recommend the centre entrances - they work well, and you don't need a mouseguard - you can always add the new experimental entrances as an "extra" at a later date
I'm a great believer in "KISS" - you'll find there's screeds written on end entrances, differing bar widths etc, but have found that sticking to the original plans produces a simple to make hive that works well - you can faff about with frills and furbelows at a later date........ (which you probably won't find necessary)