Late spring, I got a call from a local beek who'd suffered a brain injury, and needed me to take his hive and all of his bee stuff. I also spoke to his brother, who confirmed that taking the hive would be the best thing for all concerned. I wasn't necessarily keen on the idea, but felt his need.
It was a bit of a hassle, but I picked up his hive, along with his beekeeping equipment. His practice is different than my own, and most of his equipment is not of use to me.
Lacking space, I put the hive in a neighbor's yard. It swarmed days later. I shared the extra/excess equipment with my neighbor, who decided he wanted to keep the swarm.
Fastforward to fall. I've not harvested any honey from the adopted and swarmed hive, but wanted to share some of my other honey with this fellow... Mostly a goodwill thing, because I knew both he and his wife were unwell, and he probably missed not having a honey harvest. Called him up to arrange a time.
He informed me that he'd had another brain injury over the summer, but that he was recovering well, and would want his hives back in the spring. He expressed that he hoped I'd enjoyed having the extra hive. (Gee, thanks).
Really, I want to wash my hands of this matter, but it's possible that he's even more fried, and still unable to keep bees. It's unclear.
I've drafted the following email. My wife says it is too harsh. Thoughts?
When I spoke to both you and your brother in the spring, it was made clear to me that you were unable to continue beekeeping, and wanted to find a home for your hive and equipment. There was urgency in your need, and I stepped up to help. I was surprised by tonight's request for your equipment and bees back.
I have sunk time and effort into taking on your hive, and am not pleased by this development. Nonetheless, I feel the only honorable path is to accommodate your request as best I am able. I would like to get your hive/equipment back to you as soon as possible, as I am unable to justify the effort that would be require to overwinter your hive. My hands are occupied with many matters, leaving little room for probono beesitting.
Given the cirumstances, however, I'd first like to again speak to your brother to confirm the feasibility of your request. Please have him give me a call at ***-****.