But if I don't know if she's two weeks old or two years old I don't know if the state of the hive is really due to her or her mother. I don't know if she's a second queen, a new queen, or the old queen. How do I measure the value of a queen whose offspring have never overwintered?
It takes 12 days for a queen to develop and emerge. OK, maybe 11 since you have smallcell...
Then it takes 2-5 days for the queen to mate, another few days till she starts laying. So the whole process is perhaps longer than 21 days, some suggesting up to 30 days. And the brood break is clearly seen between the old queen and the new queen. I think it's rather easy to see the transition over to the new queen and there are many signs in the hive. Of course this is based on a beekeeper looking into the hive every three or four weeks, and reading brood pattern, comb, etc. If the beekeeper is not going in that often (every 3-4 weeks), then does it really matter to know much more than what is being presented to you? Most still evaluate what is going on at the time they enter the hive. Mother/daughter...as long as they have a laying queen, they are happy.
Beekeepers going in hives more often should be able to see telltake signs of queen cells, etc. If they are just focused on finding a marked queen, I would bet they just might miss the other details of the hive, which can tell you much.
MB...I bet your much more in tune with your bees and anything a painted spot can tell you, can easily be obtained without that spot. And that is one of the "points" I have always said about those who keep successful operations regardless of their use of smallcell, or anything else. It is their attention to detail and commitment to knowing what is happening in the hive that is the most important key element. Which is why I think marked queens, beyond any possibility of damage, is a crutch used by beekeepers to find queens easily, and would be better served never having a marked queen and instead being taught what is happening in the hive.