Here are a couple pics of my hives:
I lost 4/5 hives two years ago and the only one that made it was one that I had let build natural comb and that had a quilt on top. The hive that survived had very few bees or stores. I put a shim on the top box and poured dry sugar on a piece of cardboard. The other hives had lots of bees and honey but all died. I inspected them in the spring after they died and looked like moisture (and probable mites) got them. I eventually lost my one good hive also. I cleaned out the dead bees but didn't seal them up like I should and the wax moths got in and ate up everything.
After those catastrophies, I decided to start over (with two new packages this spring) and try some new things.
1. I put a quilt on both hives. That is the dark colored spacer. I stapled a screen on the bottom of those spacers and filled them up with cedar shavings. The spacers have 2x1" screened holes in the front and back (same config the one hive had that survived the winter two years ago).
2. Under the spacer, I put another shim for a top entrance. It has 3x3/4" holes in the front side of them. One hive uses it a lot and the other has propolized them mostly shut. I like upper entrances for the winter because snow clogs up bottom entrances and also yellow jackets go in the bottom entrances when it hasn't frozen yet and the temps get below 48F or so. The bees ball up and don't protect the entrance. I think they will protect the upper entrances since the heat will rise and they will wander around in there. I will close two of the upper entrances when it gets colder. I will plug all the bottom entrances as it gets colder.
3. I will put dry sugar on the top box in the upper entrance spacer as needed for the winter.
4. I turned the bottom board landing board side to the back and put a spacer on that and screened the top of it with 8x8 hardware cloth to help with mites. I also cut out 3/4" of the bottom of the spacer out by the bottom board entrance so if I do the powdered sugar treatment, I can let it fall on a removable piece of cardboard and pull out the fallen sugar easily. Right now i have a sticky board in there that i just put in today.
5. I added another spacer above the screened bottom board with 7x3/4" holes for a bottom entrance. I will use those in the spring, summer, and early fall but will close them all up for the winter. I will close the top entrances in the spring, summer, and fall next year (if they survive) because I will try to do comb honey on top and don't want a top entrance for that (travel stain and storing pollen in the comb honey if have a top entrance).
6. I have frames in the boxes but am going foundationless with them. They built mostly straight but are a few frames where they built into the next one. I don't plan on inspecting much so this hopefully won't bother me because it can be a mess with out foundation when they build across.
I hope all this works. I don't want to store extra boxes so I just put them at the bottom of the brood boxes, that is why the hives have so many boxes (all medium langstroth boxes, some I had and some cut down from deeps). The talles hive has built out 4 boxes and the shorter one 3 boxes. I only want to nadar (except for the comb honey box which I will super). i don't want to use chemicals because as the boxes rotate up, they will be the honey supers. This will be a challenge to protect against mites without chemicals. I plan on crush and strain as I harvest from the top to rotate comb that way and will put the empty box on the bottom after harvest.
That is it. How do Warre hive owners treat for mites and is it ok to have empty supers on the bottom? I think it shouldn't hurt.