Working with Horizontal Layens Hives

Feral Hive in a Natural Tree Hollow

Layens horizontal hives were designed to imitate how the feral bee colonies live in natural tree hollows.

Layens horizontal hives with deep 16″ frames have been in continuous use since the 19th century, as they are easy to manage with minimal disturbances to the bees.  These hives are very popular in Spain & France and are now gaining popularity in the US especially in areas with cold winters.

A mid-Summer schematic view of a 20-Frame Layens horizontal hive

 At the height of summer the hive is fully filled with frames. A frame is beekeeper’s equivalent of a single honeycomb . The bees choose frames next to the open entrance to raise brood (darker frames) and frames father from the open entrance they use as honey stores like the bees do in natural tree hollows.


Late Fall/Early Spring schematic view of a 20-Frame Layens horizontal hive


During late Fall and early Spring only about a 1/3 of the space is used and flanked by a divider board – a smaller beehive size like in a natural tree hollow benefits overwintering – it’s cosier and warmer in a smaller space.

Just like in natural tree hollow, 16” deep frames in a horizontal hive represent contiguous honeycombs with no gaps in between.


Layens Frame with Sizes

At the heart of a Layens hive is its
frame ~13”x16”deep. This frame was designed to imitate the size of comb found in natural tree hollow beehives.

An individual movable frame is a beekeeper’s equivalent of a single honeycomb.  Frames make it easy to inspect & manage the beehives without dealing with a tangled-up mess.