Autumn Management: What to do with Burr Comb

While cleaning out the burr comb is not only for autumn management, it’s actually a regular to-do list for every beekeeper. If you’re a beginner, you may be wondering, what the hell is a burr comb?  In this blog, we’ll highlight what it is and how to clean them out of your hives. 

What is it? 

Burr comb is the comb that bees create to join parts of the hive with a space around the size of 10mm. They usually build this in unwanted places and odd corners in the hive or at least anywhere you won’t expect it! In some instances, it can contain honey or pollen stores, sometimes, even brood. 

Why do bees build it? 

Bees build burr combs to connect one frame to another, more likely creating a passageway inside the hive. It is an issue for beekeepers since frames that are connected cannot be moved easily without making a mess. It can also be due to an error in the fault of the beekeeper. This is mainly due to incorrect spacing in between the frames or forgetting to return a frame during inspection. In regular inspections, you can see any burr comb starting to build up. 

How to remove burr comb?

Here are some easy steps to follow to remove burr comb in your hive.

  1. First off, put on your beekeeping suit and smoke the beehive to calm the bees. 
  2. Gently remove the hive lid and examine the comb. Find out if there are frames that are stuck together, then remove the comb connecting these frames that prevents you from taking out the frame.
  3. With the help of the traditional hive tool, scrape off the burr combs off the top of the frames gently and slowly. Examine if these combs have brood or larvae in them. 
  4. After scraping, properly inspect the whole hive to avoid neglecting any burr comb build up. Return the frames to its proper spacing and position. 

What to do with Burr Comb

As much as it is irritating to have burr combs, its actually quite useful to a lot of apiaries. It is common practice that beekeepers melt the burr comb to make beeswax. 

Beeswax can be used in heaps of ways: 

  • Candles – candles made out of beeswax burns brighter and removes toxins from the air. 
  • Beeswax can be applied to iron hand tools such as knives, shovels etc. This will help maintain your tools and make them last longer. 
  • Beeswax also prevents bronze materials from tarnishing by preventing them against oxidation from the moist in the air. 
  • Cosmetic products such as lip balm, hand cream, soap and moisturisers
  • Wood lubricants
  • Wax coating for plastic foundations
  • Pure beeswax foundations

There are a lot of uses for beeswax! It may just be the ingredient that can help you add more products in your catalogue and keep you busy this autumn!