Sheeesh, where do I start?
My own opinion is that there are little areas left that can support true feral stock, untouched or influenced by managed hives. In most states, like Pennsylvania, the number and location of beekeepers is such that if you drew a ten mile circle on a map where ever apiary is located within the state, few areas could be called virgin, or vast enough to maintain true feral populations. And three years, and yes if you want to see the state permits I have them, of searching for truly remote areas of feral colonies, little could be seen in the support of such urban legends.
Feral colonies thrive and are located in areas that farming allow a variety of nectar sources and where they have been recently cast off from managed hives. The deeper you go into forrests, away from civilization, the fewer and fewer feral colonies you will find. True wilderness does not normally have good resources for colonies to thrive. Once spring tree nectar sources are gone, it's not good the rest of the year.
I love it when someone tells me about some "feral" colony, and then they mention they got it from farmer Brown's barn in the middle of agriculture central. Feral colonies for the most part are just "aged" colonies from swarms.
I also do not think that such items as what they are doing is as doom and gloom as you suggest. By the nature of the first couple posts, I see you speak down about others and like to make comments like "so-called beekeepers", "man's conceit", "toxic landscape of human existence", etc. (I thought you solved all problems to beekeeping by means of a Warre hive
) I think what they are doing may have merit, and actually is not a bad thing. Where it goes, what benefits may come out of it, and whether it's worth it, will be found out down the road.
What they may find, is that many feral colonies (like the Warre hive that itself is supposed to imitate) are ripe with problems themselves. It does not take long discussing with others about how many of these colonies built by bees on natural comb, with comb built from the top down, and with no opening of the hive, that they are loved by SHB, have many issues, and should not be seen as something magical because they came from a tree or other place.
Or maybe their experiences will be different than mine. But trying will not hurt. And I see no reason to sit in the back of the room and jab at other people's sincere efforts.
I do not see the feral colonies as saving commercial beekeeping. I see commercial beekeeping saving themselves by changing the way they treat, manage, and harm bees. Some imaginary pool of genetics, is not going to overcome the problems within the commercial industry. So I think your way off on that point.
For someone that denigrates everything and everybody, it may seem that nature and some mystical or imaginary feral pool of genetics is the answer. But I think the answers may be in what man can do, what we need to change, and what we will learn, that will save the bees. Whether that is conceited or not, I guess you can decide. But I know that path is brighter when such negativity and ill-will towards what seems every other beekeeper who is not aligned with you, may do more harm than good. So what if some beekeepers are doing a feral bee project? I hope they find something to prove me wrong.