Re: Tim Ives Method
Find myself agreeing with Acebird to some extent.
Here where I am we don't have hard winters so cannot comment on that, but this is what I've observed. In mid/late winter, cluster size of all hives tends to normalise, up, or down, till they are all similar, that's assuming sufficient feed plus allowing for bee breed. (pure carniolans have a much smaller cluster than Italians).
But once the spring build up starts, if a hive does not have a lot of stores they build up slowly, as if making sure they will not run out. A hive with plenty of stores builds up faster even before any flow because they feel safe to do that.
For me, I need lots of bees early, so I winter my hives heavy, ie 2 deeps nearly both full of honey just enough empty room for clustering. Come spring, it's almost as if the bees do an inventory and decide they have plenty, so they will turn it into as many bees as possible so they can swarm. That's where growth has to be controlled, or splits made, or some system used.
Early build up is not always a good thing, some commercial beekeepers here go into winter with a set amount of feed on the hives, then will not open that hive at all till some certain point on their calendar, because any opening can stimulate the bees and lead to eventual swarming. They try to get build up right, to avoid swarming but be ready to go when the nectar flow starts. That's when a guy needs a good knowledge of his area.
Somebody doing pollination would have a different set of needs and would manage that accordingly.
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).