what kinds of nectar source are in the area ?
almost solid alfalfa with a just a bit of sunflowers and buckwheat here and there. north dakota was the area and no one I knew sat down there all winter. nectar yields were highly dependent on rainfall during critical periods of time in the summer months. bee yards were registered with the state so you had to maintain a minimum of 1 mile between yards which encouraged you to crowd individual hives into a yard.
here the migratory folks (winter location) often have yards of 40 plus but they are being maintained till spring primarily via a syrup bucket.