>At the moment I've got 3 hive and 3 nucs at home, and 2 hives at another location. I've never fed them, and it's never been a problem. But I'm interested in making nucs, increasing the number of hives quite a bit, and down the track maybe even making some money from the hives. Can I do this without feeding?
Yes. Just give the nucs enough capped honey.
>Is there anyone keeping a reasonable amount of beehives who never feeds?
Never? Probably not. Seldom? Sure.
>I just leave enough honey for them over the winter, and give nucs a frame of honey from a stronger hive if they need it.
That's what I do.
>Is this a viable way to continue?
Yes. Until a fall flow fails and they are going into winter without enough stores.
>I'm thinking it is, but I'm interested in people's thoughts. It's a warm area and they rear some brood and collect a little bit of pollen and nectar all winter here.
I've never lived in such a place...
>Feeding means robbing, from what I have read.
Well, I'd say feeding is the leading cause of robbing but that does not mean you can't do it while avoiding robbing. But you need to approach it from the point of view of preventing robbing. Reduce entrances on all the hives and feed all the hives if you really need to feed. Or just feed the strong ones and then steal capped stores for the weak hives.
>It means extra equipment, extra work, extra expenses. In a good warm area does it really pay off?
I convert solid bottoms to feeders for the occasion when I have to feed. It's not the best feeder but it's free and I usually don't feed.http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#BottomBoardFeeder
> Should I learn how to feed them sugar just in case or can I just carry on with modest increase and generous honey left for wintering? We have good pollen and I've never even thought of feeding pollen patties or supplements or anything.
Sooner or later you will need to feed if you keep bees. Maybe it will only be once every few years, but it beats letting them starve.
>The only times I'm thinking feeding could be useful are during queen rearing, or for making smaller nucs (make 2 frame (deep) nucs instead of 5 frame nucs, and feed them up?)
If there is nectar coming in there is no reason to feed them. If you did a split and now there is no nectar coming in you may need to feed them to get them built up for winter. As far as queen rearing, again, you don't need to feed if there is nectar coming in. But in a dearth it's difficult to get them to build cells and feed them well. Frankly it's not the best time to rear queens anyway in a dearth...