How To Remove Burr Comb From a Hive Frame

Burr comb is any comb your bees make in bee space or the outer edges of the frames.

Burr comb is any comb your bees make in "bee space" or the outer edges of the frames.

Bees naturally create “bee space” in a hive, which is about 3/8ths of an inch between each frame. The bees use this space to walk between the frames during their work inside the hive.

Occasionally, they build extra cells inside “bee space” which can cause inconveniences for the beekeeper. This excess comb is scraped off with a hive tool during regular inspections of the hive. Most bees are docile when frames are merely being lifted and viewed, but become more agitated when comb is broken, especially if it contains honey or brood. Because of this, it is advisable to wear a veil or full bee suit when you plan to remove burr comb.

Some beekeepers decide to keep a clump or two of burr comb on the bottom floor of the hive because this serves as a ladder for worker bees as they enter the hive to visit the interior frames. Other beekeepers feel it aids the transportation of hive beetles and mites, and therefore remove it as well.

Flat hive tools with a scraping end are the best for removing burr comb quickly and cleanly. Simply scrape the comb away, taking care not to press too hard since a sharp hive tool can create gouges in wooden frames.

Eliza Lord

I'm a Greenville, SC native (the Appalachian foothills) who wears the hats of Greenville Master Gardener & Upstate Master Naturalist. I love to write about food and sustainability.