Brendhan, after having a bit more time to fully read your post, I believe you're right on. I see the AHB issue like air travel. When a crash happens it's a riveting story, which for the media is all about the ratings and readership. All that drama makes flying look like one risky proposition, regardless of the statistics people may read. And of course driving on I-95 to MIA or the 405 to LAX is a heck of a lot more dangerous than getting on a plane. We get a stinging death and it's front page and top of the hour news for 3 or 4 days. What people don't get is simple probability means they will never get attacked by bees. There are millions of potentially risky bee encounter activities going on every day - mowing the yard, repairing the siding, reading the meter, throwing away your soda bottle in the park trash can, pets digging around in the yard, and so on. And with probably similar frequency as lottery winners, somebody will be in the wrong place at the wrong time and disturb a hive and the whole thing quickly will cascade out of control and they get hospitalized or killed.
From what I have read about South American beekeepers, they seem to have adapted well to AHB and are happy with the resilience and productivity of their colonies. I would imagine we too will learn to live with and manage them. It may present some challenges, one for hobbyist beekeepers like me who choose to keep bees in highly populated places. Now I can mow right around my hives and bring friends over for back yard gatherings without generating any interest. I wonder what AHBs would do??
One curiosity I have, from an evolutionary biology perspective, is how long the aggressive genes will continue to be selected for, since I would suspect they don't have the level of predation in the new world they experience in Africa. If there are fewer hive destruction events then there won't be as many of the nastiest hives to survive over the gentler ones, assuming the most aggressive hives tend to more likely fend off a fatal blow. So you should end up with more surviving less aggressive colonies that would dilute the aggressive genes over time. Because in nature things just don't happen for the heck of it. Aggressive genes will not stick around if there is no reason for them. But it may well take hundreds and more probably thousands of years for that transition to happen on its own.