Welllll - putting together a hive from a box a parts is no small task! Several nights of pre-drilling, gluing, nailing, sanding and finishing have reminded me of early model building projects. I decided to go with a natural finish and used an external Minwax polyurethane for the outside coating. I am pleased with the natural color result. I put the last coats on Wednesday to give the hive some time to breath before the bees go in (I am posting this a little late).
One problem I ran into was that one one of the boxes had an end panel that had the rabbits cut upside down. Fortunately it was on the second box so I didn't think I was crazy. I called Dadant the next day and they FedExed me a new part over night, so I was able to complete the boxes on time.
There were no instructions for putting the foundations in, so I just remembered some stuff that had been talked about on the forums and gave it a try, once I got the hang of it, it went pretty fast.
Here is a picture of what the bottom hive looks like.