Well, one out of my two hives had nothing but honey and pollen and doesn't have a hint of brood as every cell is either undrawn or filled with pollen or honey. I've been monitoring the falling brood levels for 2 weeks now. I went out and noticed that a bit of robbing has commenced from the strong hive.
Since I can't add brood frames from the strong hive (failing hive is a single deep, while the successfull hive is 3 mediums-2 with brood), and there is absolutely no more brood left (even drone brood is hatched now), I elected to newspaper combine.
I pulled the failing hive off of its stand, and added it over a sheet of newspaper to the successful hive, propping the top cover of the failing hive since it's hot, and to provide an entrance. This set off an epic, terrible bee battle on the weak hive's bottom board and around their feeder. I've been feeding both because they're so slow to increase, and because dearths here come and go quickly.
I swept them off of the bottom board, but this just got them coming after me. Tons of smoke later, I'm hoping that they can sort this out with minimal casualties. I may just have been better off letting the failing hive fail. This way I'm hoping to at least let the "victorious" hive get all of the honey and pollen in the failing hive's nice full deep.
-No brood whatsoever in the failing hive. I checked every frame. Everything was either pollen or uncapped/capped honey, even in the center frames.
-no visible sign of varroa, and curiously, no signs of SHB which I've seen in the past whenever brood levels are low. Likely that would have followed after this batch started to die off.
-I left the inner cover over the weak hive (now supered on the strong hive), but propped the top board as it's around 90-95 and I've heard of newspaper combined hives completely dying due to the lack of ventilation from the paper.
How stupid was this? Opinions wanted, feel free to bee brutal.
When should I check them to see if the combine worked?
Do I get rid of the propped outer cover once they've chewed through the newspaper?
The only other options I can think of would have been to let it fail and possibly lose that honey and pollen or to requeen. No idea if they would have taken the queen anyway, or how she would have done in a nearly honeybound hive without any capped brood to support her once she laid the first eggs. I suspect the hive would have failed anyway unless I requeened 10 days ago or more in order to allow for enough nurse bees when the first brood hatched in 21 days.