For the most part I have not found anyplace in the USA, including Alaska, that needs more than 2 deeps full of stores to overwinter.
If bees die from starvation during the winter it is not from the cold itself but rather from either too long of a period of of cold that doesn't allow the bees to break cluster and bring stores back to it, or there was insufficient stores to begin with. The third most common cause of bee loss during the winter is moisture condensation where the moisture condenses and rains on the cluster and a quick following freeze kills the bees, ventilation cures this.
I'm not saying bees can't die from lack of stores, even with more then 2 deeps, under severe conditions but that is the exception rather than the rule.
As a prewinter check list you want the bees to have a good crop of winterized (october) brood, backfilled as much of the brood chamber as possible (maybe all but 10-15%) and beginning to build burr comb for additional stores. 2 10 frame deeps with stores and bees should be about 150 lbs. With properly ventilated hives your bees should make it through the winter. Smaller hives will have smaller clusters but can still be successfully overwintered using similar guidelines, just that the total weight of the combined hive will vary. a double stacked 5 frame nuc can be successfully overwintered and only weigh 50 lbs when backfilled, burr comb, proper ventilation, and late hatch bees are present.
Brian, How do you ventilate your hives in the winter? what is proper ventilation?
Thanks to all for such good information