For any experiment, a plan is required. This is more formally called the Experimental Design. Included in that, is the timeline and what actually will be measured.
Control of variation and the timeline
Of great importance to the plan is how variation from random effects, or things we don’t care about, will be controlled to a minimum. For example, all the queens will be mated and kept in one location so that different locations will not effect the results.
The time of year that the colonies will be started will also introduce variation in the results. It won’t be possible for me to start all 40 colonies in the same week, therefore I will start some colonies from each of the four mother queens each week. If I instead started queens from a different queen each week, there would be a four week difference in resource opportunity and available drones for mating in the first and fourth queen. That would not be good.
The timeline above looks really good on paper, but when working with bees, or any other animals, things happen and things change. Its important to be able to be flexible and still have a reasonable control over unexplained variation.
Measures of interest