OXFORD – The beehive mystery on Rock-O-Dundee Road has been solved.

“I got up this morning and there’s this man in a white suit climbing a ladder up my tree,” said Rebbecca Richardson, who ran out to her front yard where thousands of bees had converged Monday morning and asked the man what he was doing.

“It was my next door neighbor,” Richardson said. “He scooped them into a bucket and they all disappeared.”

The neighbor, Kevin Farr of 98 East Oxford Road, confirmed Tuesday night that he was the owner of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 bees that he said left their hive in search of a new home Monday morning.

Farr, a first-time beekeeper, said he was unaware that his bees had flown the coop, or the hive in this case, until he opened the Sun Journal on Tuesday morning and saw the story about the bees at his neighbor’s house.

“Those are my bees,” he said as he quickly donned his white protective suit and hat, grabbed a ladder and bucket and ran across the street to the Richardson house on nearby Rock-O-Dundee Road.

Farr said the bees apparently swarmed about 100 feet from their box in his backyard to a fir tree in front of the Richardson house in search of a new home. “They send out scout bees looking for new accommodations,” explained Farr of the process that happens when a hive gets too full of bees. The queen will initiate the swarm and the other bees follow. The trip to their neighbor’s yard, where they quickly formed a foot-high, foot-long mass, was only a search for temporary shelter, Farr said. Usually the bees will continue on within 24 hours until they find a new permanent home.

Farr, who has applied for his state license as a beekeeper and has taken a course in beekeeping, said he bought the bees from a Buckfield beekeeper primarily to pollinate the fruit trees he planted this year in his backyard. He has provided another hive for the bees to live in, but he believes the scout bees are long gone.

Meanwhile, Richardson said she is concerned it will happen again, but Farr said it is unlikely as long as he provides a large enough home for the bee colonies, which can grow to 40,000 to 50,000 bees.

“I’m just happy they’re gone,” Richardson said.