Welcome Catsnstuff. You ask some good questions. It is worth using the search function to do some reading as there are very few questions that havent been asked and answered many times previously.
If you only put enough beans in the hopper for a dose, the beans can tend to jump around like pop corn which can lead to an incosistent grind. Some people have got around this but putting a weight on top of the beans in the hopper.
The best way to store beans is in a coffee bag with a one way valve. Some have zip-locks for resealing, otherwise I use a clip to reseal once opened, being careful not to conceal the one-way valve.
The hopper is not the best place to store your beans, they will deteriorate faster in there. In general beans are best between 4-14 days after roasting.