I like your writing style and wit. I also have had many of the same ideas. Many of which I have not tried, but have heard of many people around the world doing similar things.
To answer your short list of questions:
1. Honey is generally harvested in the autumn because that is when the honey flow is over and and the honey is ripe enough to take and it won't spoil. Many permaculture beekeepers wait until spring as to leave plenty for the bees in winter, and there being little chance of unripened honey. This saves work by not having to feed back. Most commercial guys want the honey out of the comb before it has a chance to granulate (and thus making it difficult to extract). One can, if knowledgeable enough, harvest many times a year. But the beekeeper must be certain of the ripe condition of the honey.
2. Lots of beekeepers have permanent bee yards (apiaries), and it is a great idea! Putting them up in trees is dangerous for the bees and the beekeeper. Putting them on a flat roof or a platform is a much better idea. Honey is heavy, and with the wind moving the trees, its best if the bees actually live inside the tree like they do in nature. You could put log hives up on a platform or rooftop, and easily accomplish the up in the air idea and be safe and sturdy. The bees would naturally colonize appropriately sized log hives, and once you are set up there you go. Be sure to check with your state whether or not you can have hives that don't have moveable combs. If you can't have log hives, then top bar hives would be a good bet. Lots of people hang top bar hives from trees around the world. My guess is they don't have the climate that north dakota does (wind/cold). You could also build earth shelters(wofatis) and place the hives on the top near the drop off and it may give the bees of the sense of being high up. Other wise I think a shipping container would be best. Bees on top with a wind break, stairs up and down, and you could turn the container into a processing and storing space. All in one unit. Placing individual hives long distances apart doubles or triples the workload because of the start/stop and travel. Thats why people have had apiaries for thousands of years. Way more profitable for the beekeeper. I think you need a bee house on top of a building/earth shelter.
3. Well not trucking bees around is better for the bees and for humans too! The only reason they are trucked around now is because honey is devalued and beekeepers have to send their bees in order to make a living. If the sugar industry hadn't killed the honey industry, the world would be a different place. I don't think beekeepers like shipping their bees, but they also do like money. When California and other states can keep enough pollinators alive that they don't need honey bees for pollination, then we will see and end to this pollination dependancy.
4. First off let me say I admire your enthusiasm and creativity! Your idea for setting up hives for the bees is awesome, and surely you will catch some swarms! You may catch local feral bees, or domestic imported bees from the beekeepers in your area. Keep note of differences between your hives. Since bees fly large distances, they are able to inhabit almost anywhere. There are definitely areas that are better than others for many reasons. You have put so many ideas down that I can't address them all. But you might find answers to many of your questions in my online beekeeping course designed for permaculture beekeepers.
5. If you look at bee keeping around the world, there are many hive designs ranging from living trees that have cavities created by humans slowly over the years, to people making top bar hives out of plastic barrels, to beautiful and elaborate bee houses, the variations are endless. Because north dakota is so cold and windy, I would suggest looking into bee houses. They provide protection in the winter and shade in the summer. I've got tons of ideas for you!
6. Dee Lusby always recounts how she kept bees up on the high line in Montana in langstroth deeps. But she says the key is having large colonies with lots of honey stores for insulation to get them through the winter. So yeah lots of people do it. I am in Missoula, MT which isn't like north dakota but still can be cold. I can only agree with Dee Lusby from what experience I have seen, large hives with lots of honey stores make it through the winter. Small ones freeze, light ones starve. The combination of the two is a death warrant. Pretty simple really.
I hope this gets you going and thinking more about what to do!
Marty - Awesome videos! This is exactly what I want to do! But I am scared of getting caught!!!