Re: Advise on presence of drones
My first thought is. If you think drones will be present in 2 weeks. there is not much to loose in having queens ready to mate then. at worst you get some unmated queens. At best you get some early queens. I don't think I woudl consider these the best of queens at all but watching them for a while to see how they perform may prove that wrong. In short good things even by long odds cannot happen if you do nothing. The only sure outcome is doing nothing.
Do the bees know something you don'? Very likely. I have no idea what that is either.
As far as open mating. To begin with it is a situation of no control. And the truth is that never changes. No matter what breeders do they never gain control. they can only improve the conditions of chance.
I have also seen it mentioned several times that queens will travel further to mate than drones do. It is thought this serves to prevent drones from the same colony as the queen being in the same place. Otherwise do I think brothers will mate with sisters? absolutely no question in my mind that they will. I would keep all queens reared at one yard all drone production at the other. As for drone production in general it is simply attempting to increase the frequency that a queen will mate with choice drones. If you put all drones into one of two categories. good drones and bad drones. then random chance says you will have half and half. But if you intentionally produce drones in large numbers from colonies of known good traits. You are pushing that chance more in your favor. You may only move that chance to 51-49 in favor of a good pairing. But that is a difference. Prevent drones from being produced in colonies of known bad traits and you push it a little further in your favor. The hard thing to understand is that the improvement compounds. like the interest on your credit card. For ever bad drone I prevent from being produced. I double the chance for a good drone to mate. so my 51-49 actually goes to something like 53-47 by preventing bad drones. probably even better. Use more good colonies to make more good drones or artificially increase the number of drones a good colony produces and I think it is reasonable to think you can push the odds as far as 75-25. But I don't think anyone ever can expect better than that.
What does this mean for a single queen. lets say she mates with 20 drones. 15 of them woudl be good drones. 5 woudl be bad. you still have a colony that is primarily good. and every queen you produce under such efforts will be so. not just 75 out of every 100. but all of them. It does not work out that perfectly in the real world. but that is the breaking down of chance by the numbers and chance always proves true over time and large numbers of repetitions. If you do anything to make the odds in your favor. it will show up. it may take hundreds of queens to see it but it is there.
I also think it is more important to limit the production of bad genes than to increase the number of good ones. I think of it this way. If you already have clean water. more clean water does not make that much of a difference. but if only one drop of dirty water gets in the glass. the entire glass becomes dirty. In many ways this is true about genetics. Although it is very important to select carefully for the traits desired. I believe there needs to be much more effort to reduce the bad as well. With the open mating required for queen production. this is the one factor breeders are always in a losing battle with. that tiny drop of bad is devastating.
All work and no play makes a happy bee.