I did 2 combines
I had 4 single story 8 frame deeps as mating boxes. 2 now have new queens laying, 2 went queenless. I joined the laying queen boxes on top of the queenless boxes, this is how I did it.
In the queenless boxes, I pushed all frames to one side of box (8 frame boxes have a bit of space left over with 8 frames in place so there's room to slide the frames to one side to give room for manipulating the frames). Then I pulled the one frame on the side with space, over to it's side to give space between frame one and two. I sprayed 1:2 sugarater on the bees between the frames. Then I pulled frame 2 over next to frame one and sprayed between frames 2 and 3. I continued this until I had sprayed between all frames, getting almost all bees wet with sugar water. When finished, I pushed all frames together into the center which gives 1/2" space on the outsides (this is how I keep the frames spaced in the boxes).
I then went to a laying queen box and did the same spraying of it, so that all it's bees were wet with sugar water. Then I took the laying queen box and moved it to the top of the queenless hive box, creating a 2 story 8 frame deep with the laying queen in the top box. I Did Not Use any queen excluder or newpaper in the join. The laying queen box and the queenless box, both boxes of bees came from the same mother queen, so all bees in both boxes were of the same "family".
I then went to the next set, laying queen and queenless boxes, and performed the same sugar water spraying. In this set, I took the queenless box of bees and moved it Under the laying queen box, creating a 2 story 8 frame deep hive with the laying queen in the top box. Once again, I did not use a queen excluder or newspaper, all these bees in both boxes also came from a single mother queen so were all from the same "family" of bees. (different mother queen from the first set tho).
I now have 2 hives that are 2 story 8 frame hives with laying queen in the top. There is good stores of nectar as I've been trickle feeding 1:1 sugarater throughout the queen hatching and mating process. I will be adding 1/2 pollen patty to each in 3 or 4 days, after they have all settled in well.
Starting with 4 boxes in 4 different locations, and ending with 2 boxes locations, I have some confused bees flying around somewhat, looking for their original location box which is no longer there. They should get all straightened out in couple or three days. That's when I'll add the pollen patties. I'm continue feeding 1:1 sugar water as it's a dearth here and fall is coming on. I want strength built up and with fresh queens they should start laying prolificly, and the pollen patties should help jumpstart that prolific laying. There was no fighting of bees in this join, and I don't expect any either.
In 10 days (one week after adding the pollen patties) I'll go thru both new hives and check to make sure the marked queens are still alive and laying, which I'm confident they will be but won't be sure unless I check!
That's a pretty slick method Ray. I've gotten to where I usually just fill both boxes with a ton of smoke and slap them together. I get about as much fighting as I ever did with newspaper, not much. I have made the observation that less defensive bees always seem to accept a combine much much more readily than defensive bees. Has anyone else seen this as well or am I just full of it? (or both?)
In the late fall/winter/early spring season, I've made combines using newspaper where both boxes had queens. I was making combines to build up to better strength one colony instead of 2 weeker ones. It was cold so did not want to search and pinch a queen. I used the newspaper method. I had many more killed in fighting then and I attribute it to the fact that there were two laying queen hives joined. When one of the boxes is made queenless a day or three before the join, the opperation goes much more smoothly. I've not noticed a difference between more aggressive bees or not because I don't let aggressive bees keep their queens. I've been having some nice calm hives for the last couple years.
The new 2 story hive that was created by moving the box with laying queen to the top of a queenless box has no dead bees in front and no fighting. The box on the bottom with the entrance has not changed position, therefore there are no "unknown stranger" bees trying to enter the hive. The bees from the top box leaving the hive go down thru the bottom box and are therefore known by the bees in the bottom box so that on returning, they are easily given entrance by the guards.
The new 2 story hive that was created by moving the queenless box to a new position under the laying queen box, has a cup or so of dead bees on the ground in front of the hive. The bottom box with entrance has changed positions now, so they are guarding the entrance against bees that are coming in, that always used to come in there, because they are perceived as strangers now by the new owners of the front board entrance.
My conclusions from this experiment is...
When combining boxes of bees, always move the box containing the new queen that you want to keep, to the new position on top of the queenless box. This will reduce or eliminate fighting from the combine, because the bees guarding the entrance have never changed positions.
Also I have noticed that when combining boxes where both boxes have queens, and you don't pinch any of the queens, that the queen in the top box wil win and take over the hive. There will also be fighting and dead bees from this kind of combine.