Re: When is newspaper combine really required?
There's a number of variables. If the queenless one is strong and the one with the queen is weak, newspaper can slow down the combine and ensure a large number of bees don't kill the queen.
If one 1/2 has laying workers or suspected virgin, newspaper may not be needed, but a queen excluder is, to stop the good queen wandering up into a different bunch of bees and getting killed, the queen excluder can be removed in a few weeks when the virgin would have been killed, or laying workers sorted.
But for the most part I'm like you David, almost never use newspaper even though that's how I was trained.
At seasons end, when I'm wintering down my 3 way nucs, any queenless ones I just pull the divider and let them unite with the one next door, virtually never a problem.
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).