I inseminate approximately 250-300 queens per year. This is purely for research reasons in my case. We inseminate queens with known numbers of drones for genetic comparisons and for studying task specialisation.
Comercially in Australia insemination is used by a consortium of queen breeders to maintain pure strains collected for breeding stock (in some lines have existed for 50 plus years). They maintain over 30 lines.
Queen breeders generally have about 2 or 3 inseminated breeder queens that they raise all their queens from. The progeny is then mated in yards (often isolated) so it will mate with selected drone parent colonies. The difference is that the queens fly to the nearest DCA (drone congregation area which can contain 100's of thousands of drones. So it is very difficult to get a pure mating. In this case at least a good proportion of the progeny carry the charecteristics of the breeder.
The reason for the cost is that beekeepers don't requeen all their hives with these, they simply breed from them. Often they are from lines kept for many years with generations of breeding and selection. So they are just going to give the genes away.
Many will tell you that A.I. is hard, queens are inferior etc, etc. Most of this is mythical, it's purely dependant on your level of skill, hygeine and experience and ability to follow scientifically proven protocols.
It's like anything, "practice makes perfect" and if your interested go and give it a try. You can cross whatever you want to in that case. Make your own selections from queens. However you must understand a bit of genetics which can be learned from bee breeding books.
There are many methods, apparatus types, and syringes. Like cars all have pluses and minuses.
On the point of storing drone sperm. This has not been perfected by any means. It loses viability quickly when frozen. So far if stored in the correct buffer it can remain almost 100% viable for 72 hours. This means you generally collect it freshly every time.
The following links give some background on insemination and courses. If your interested in learning Sue Coby runs great courses and I highly reccomend her as a teacher.
If your interested I can outline my equipment, procedures, hints tips, drone selection etc, etc however it is fairly long winded. http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/bkCD/HBBiology/breeding_genetics.htmhttp://www174.pair.com/birdland/Breeding/