Every now and again someone asks the difference between burr comb, bridge comb, and brace comb. I wrote about these briefly in a post called “Strange comb in strange places“, but apparently my definitions were lacking. So here, I will explain.
But first, I will make two assumptions: one, that you know what comb is (after all, you are a beekeeper) and two, that you have a dictionary (if you are reading this, you are on the interneta place rife with dictionaries).
When I look up burr, I find “a rough edge or ridge left on an object.” Also, “a rough covering of a nut or seed.” Based on these definitions, burr comb would be a rough spot or ridge of comb. Sometimes we see ridges running down the center of a frame, sometimes we see little mounds of comb on a inner cover, or perhaps a little dome attached to a brood box or super. To me, these rough spots are all burr comb.
When I look up brace, I find “a device that clamps things together or holds and supports them in position.” For example, comb that connects a frame to the side of the brood box could be called brace comb. Surely it supports the frame and holds it in positionyou need a pry bar to get it loose.
Similarly, when I look up bridge, I find “something that joins or connects other parts.” A piece of comb that connects two frames could be called bridge comb, as could comb that connects your inner cover to your brood frames. Have you ever tried to pull out one frame but got three? They may have been bridged together with comb.
My interpretation is that brace and bridge comb are basically the same because they connect parts of your hive together, while burr comb is just an extra chunk of comb in the wrong place.
There is nothing obscure about these words; they have no mysterious definitions, hidden meanings, or secret handshakes. Beekeepers have named these types of comb by comparing them to known objects, and the names have persisted because they make sense. If you just think about the words, you will understand what they describe.