Glad I could help! I don’t have populated hives either, but it’s almost a running joke in my wife’s family that when I get interested in something the first thing I do is go out and buy a bunch of books on the subject. Well, that’s not quite the first thing. The first thing I do is turn to the Internet. We’re scheduled for a class in April (the season starts later up here, of course.) We know it will be exclusively about Langstroth hives, but that’s OK. We figure we’ll still learn good stuff and we’re making friends who can give advice in other areas of beekeeping. We won’t be getting our first bees until after the class towards the end of April, unless we are able to lure a swarm in before that.
Speaking of turning to the Internet, here are a few sites that have helped me thus far besides this one. You may have seen them already:
http://www.backyardhive.com/ The creator of this site has a good DVD on TBHs that I’ve reviewed elsewhere in this forum.
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm The author of this site has published a series of books called The Practical Beekeeper, almost all material from his web site. He points out that you don’t need to buy the book(s), but that he had enough people ask for it that he went ahead and put them together. The three books have been combined into one larger one for those that prefer it. I am in the process of reading it now, having first read Top-Bar Beekeeping and The Compleat Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping. Michael Bush does use Langstroth hives, but his focus is on beekeeping without treatments, hence the subtitle Beekeeping Naturually. He uses either foundationless frames or small-cell frames.
You may be right on not needing to feed, but you may want to start out with a feeder for them to use if they need to while getting their bearings, so to speak.
Oh, one other thing about TBH entrances: most pictures and plans I’ve looked at don’t have landing boards. The entrances are usually just holes bored into the ends or the sides. One I did see with a landing board it appeared that the landing board was an extension of the floor of the hive, with the bottom of the end of the hive being cut short to create the entrance.
I’m looking forward to reading about how you make out during your first year! I plan on writing about my own experiences, mostly here for now but I’m thinking of doing so on a site of my own eventually.