I recently bought a new Ulster observation hive. I've been wanting to do an OH ever since I made the decision to become a beeker last year.

Here's a photo: http://www.tclong.net/pics/observationhive.jpg

I've got a lot of questions about getting this hive up and running.

First is the look. I'd rather stain/varnish it than paint it. Any opinions on a good stain for it (or any stain at all)? I'm thinking a natural stain to bring out the grain of the wood. I have a Marine Spar varnish that I'll be using on it (which I read about on another post).

Next question is about placement. I won't be able to keep this in our house, but I also don't want to just leave it outside in the weather. Would it be okay to keep it in one of my storage buildings with an entrance tube to the outside? And then when I needed to work the hive I'd just close off the entrance and then move it outside.

That raises another question, though. Should I use the OH full time, or just pull frames out of an existing colony whenever I plan to do a demonstration?

And lastly (for now), any recommendations for securing the entrance cover during demonstrations? I would really hate for a kid to open up the entrance in the middle of a classroom.