Jason,To be fair, to Seeley have you read his actual books?
At no time does he try to hide the size of the forest the location or the goals of his work. He comes across to me in his writing as very modest , humble and restrained in his findings and conclusions.
Seeley did allot if not all the original research in the 70's on how bees live in the wild at the time there may have been some cultural / intitutional knowledge from woodsmen, bee hunters , loggers etc but he was the first one to go out and do the research in a disciplined manner and publish the studies on wild colony size, populations density, swarming behavior etc. all to be critically read and peer reviewed. In those original studies the he didn't hide the size of the Arnot forest and in every one of his studies he describes its size, so anyone that misses that fact shouldn't blame Seeley. The subsequent studies in the Arnot forest were based on the fact that he did the very same studies in the same forest before Varroa and he could directly compare any changes, to me that IS a bid deal, there is nowhere else in the world we have that opportunity.
To Gray Gooses point, I don't remember him discussing a "new size" just that bees in the wild live in smaller nests than managed colonies. IF he did come to the conclusion that there is a "new size" bee nest is it because he is comparing the size of the nests that he found in the SAME forest in the 70's? Are you saying it had been clearcut since then?
In his studies he does pose the question are the bees in the Arnot forest just swarms from local managed colonies , that is why he did the genetic studies, he came to a certain conclusion and people have pointed out its flaws. BUT he found that the bees in the forest were genetically distinct from all the managed bees around the forest .. newly requeened, brand new apiaries or not ... that is what he found.
Those feeding stations are not to feed the bees , its to catch the bees, they are there for a few hours or days at a time very rarely to conduct genetics studies or line bees to find their nests.
His main conclusion was that bees are still living in the wild in North America which was against the assumptions of himself and many people. This had not been studied at the time (post varroa) , and anecdotally this has been substantiated over and over again, as well as many other supporting studies have been done, but he was the first to actually go out an do it, anywhere, at all !...and then there are all these people that come decades later to question his work? Thats like a modern Drag Racer in a 2021 mustang talking trash out some dude in a hot rod 32 ford in the racing 1940's ..he was running a flathead...whats wrong with him? hadn't they heard of overhead cams?...the mustang wouldn't even exist without the 32 ford.... ..Hell I know of a few bee trees myself and have seen HB deep on the Olympia National Park far far from civilization.... so yes I think his conclusion is solid... bees are living in the wild, unmanaged in North America.
Mostly I agree, good study, interesting findings, and A for effort.
4200 acre Arnot forest in NOT a Wild unmanaged forest. and yes it had been clear cut , do not know when but no very large trees exist there. Maybe to Seeley 4200 acres is a "forest" IMO 100 Square miles is a better example of unmanaged forest if it has the old growth trees like the 3 and 4 foot diameter ones. Shoot my hunting property and the couple neighbors is 1/4 that size a large unmanaged forest it is not.
IMO if managed bees are in a 10 mile crow flys distance from the "Unmanaged test area, it somewhat mitigates the findings. there would have to be swarms moving in. Again I offered the Appalachian Mountains as an example of a better place.
I also agree that "wild/feral" bees will tend to be different than domestic, heck some of the so called domestic bees I cannot get thru winter by me, Yes I am sure that is my fault but I digress.
With the so called Island study of swarm box preference and this Arnot study, IMO any conclusions drawn are at best opinions, the studies themselves have numerous "flaws/issues/constants" that call into question the results that folk seem to take a gospel.
Again great Seely did some work to better understand bees, Likely the funds he had allowed a "smallish" study, I get that.
But if one really looks at the details, the constants and the facts, they do not really prove anything.
As well I think more studys need be done, but someone needs to pony up the $$,, who really has skin in the game of what do the wild bees do? Not many here care, not to the tune of 100s of dollars. We can debate it but the "science" here is not as scientific as I would need to really buy into the whole list of "findings" yes it helps to scope the next studies, and many questions are still unanswered.
Like you car example.
The wild bees of the 30s are different than the wild bees of 2021, so extrapolation is at best a assumption.
Again this mostly a discussion of domesticated stock, and what will it do when let out.
Great example is the Africanized stock it seemed to thrive in its space.
Hopefully we have some one with interest than can find deep pockets and has a conscience to do more and better studies.
with the differences in the keeper make up, it will be a while before we get to a consensus of what to even study.
the commercials want a cheap effective Mite treatment.
the sideliners want a good dependable TF bee stock.
the newbies want to know what is the best smoker fuel.
all on the same page we Ar-not