The Modified Layens Hive utilizes the standard Layens frame but with a few changes to the dimensions and construction materials. These enhancements increase the versatility of the hive both in terms of colony health and in the ease of management for the beekeeper. For those unfamiliar with the Layens hive, let me give a brief description.
The Layens hive is a thick wall hive (1-1/2" thick), the interior dimensions of which simulate the hollow of a tree. It utilizes movable frames that are taller than they are wide. Actual comb sizes will be approximately 14.5 inches tall and 12.25 inches wide. The hive's inventor, George de Layens, stressed two main objectives in sustainable beekeeping - using local bees and using appropriate hives. Having a hive that reduces stress (both for the bee and the beekeeper) and requires minimal involvement by the beekeeper, was his goal. To provide optimal living conditions for the colony and ease of management to the beekeeper. Studies have shown that bees winter best in a vertically orientated environment. Having kept bees in several hive styles I can say with certainty that I find my horizontally orientated hives to be by far more "user friendly" than my vertical hives. The Layens hive is a wonderful marriage of the two styles. Bees have both a vertical wintering/brood chamber arrangement that suits them perfectly as well as a horizontal expansion/honey chamber that agrees so very well with the beekeeper. The Modified Layens hive stays true to the proven design of the classical Layens hive while incorporating a few changes that provide some significant advantages.
The Modified Layens hive utilizes a well insulated environment. Walls are 2-3/8" thick. A layer of exterior grade smart siding covers 1-1/2" of solid foam insulation. The insulation is moisture repelling with a radiant barrier reflective covering. The interior lining of the wall is 1/2" plywood. The top of the hive simulates the proper attic design of a modern structure. Above the combs there is a solid 3/4" thick wood topbar (a continuous ceiling), a small air gap and then 2" of solid, radiant barrier reflective insulation. The 3/4" thick top bars of the frames + air gap + 2" insulation provides superior protection from the elements of both a harsh winter and a scorching hot summer. Continuing upward there is a 1" ventilation chamber followed by a layer of insulated bubble wrap underlayment and topped off with steel roofing metal. The roof has ample overhang for both wall protection and to provide for wind assisted heat dispersion. Roof color is either white or galvanized silver. A security latch on the hinged roof has also been added.
The Modified Layens hive utilizes interior design features suggested by Fedor Lazutin, in his book, "Keeping Bees With A Smile" (available at http://www.horizontalhive.com). He added a "dead air" space at the bottom of his hives. This has been shown to have several advantages in both winter and summer, so we have added a 4" gap between the bottom of the frames and the floor of the hive. We have also incorporated two sets of bee entrances into The Modified Layens hive. And, as Mr. Lazutin found to be of benefit, the entrances have been raised several inches above the floor of the hive. A division (follower) board is used inside the hive to help with hive volume concerns, especially with small or weak colonies. It is also used if it be necessary to house two colonies in the same hive for wintering or during the process of combining colonies.
The Modified Layens hive makes use of a custom hive stand. The exterior walls of the hive extend past the floor, creating a lip that overlaps the top edges of the stand. This secures the hive in place on the stand. This also provides protection, to the stand, from the elements. The legs are angled to ensure a very stable base for the hive, and are spaced far apart to allow unrestricted access, to the hive, by the beekeeper.