Residents have been swamping beekeepers with calls for help as swarms of bees have taken up residence in backyards across Orange.
Swarming season, where thousands of bees break away from their hive to find a new home, started two weeks ago, and will continue until mid-November.
Amateur beekeeper Ken Quince said he had been called to remove four swarms from Orange backyards in the past week.
Mr Quince said he expected to collect about 15 swarms this season.
He said several had been found within a kilometre of the corner of Sampson and Byng Streets.
“There are usually about 25,000 in a swarm which is around the size of a soccer ball,” he said.
“I have caught one of 45,000-50,000 bees which was the size of two soccer balls.”
He said that while there hadn’t been any reports of “dramas” this year, of people being stung before he could remove the bees, he had been stung 139 times in the eight years he had been keeping bees.
“When I first got stung I felt it a bit, but now if I get stung I only feel it for about 30 minutes.
“I got stung [this week] and I just kept on working.
“The more you get stung the more you get used to it.
“It’s not very usual to get stung.”
Mr Quince said he took the swarms home to his own hives where they produced honey for him to give to friends and family.
“I have six completed hives and frames ready to go.
“I’m ready for the swarming season, I catch them and keep them here.”
He said he had removed swarms from four Orange schools over the years and had freed one woman who had locked herself in her property for four days with bees outside her backdoor.
Mr Quince said he took up beekeeping after retiring.
Apart from setting up the hives he had spent a lot of time studying “the science of bees” and had won show prizes for his honey.
He said that after winter the number of bees exceeded the space of their hives.
“They effectively split the hive in half, the queen generates a new queen, and they leave.”
Mr Quince said the bees then found a new home.
Mr Quince said he did not charge to remove swarms and could be contacted on 6360 4747.
“It is a hobby of mine and it is a delight to give the honey to my family and friends,” Mr Quince said.