Healthy families can mean many things, physical health, mental/emotional health or spiritual health, all equally important to the over-all wellbeing of the human species.

Having lived in our family home for nearly 30 years and being of the ‘now’ older generation we’ve always had a veggie garden and two years ago acquired an active bee hive.

Recently, new neighbours moved in with a delightful just 5 year old girl. She’s a chatty wee thing and visits us often and being good neighbours we share our bounty with this family. The most recent being a good sized helping of runner beans.

Much to my amazement, I saw the Mum at our veggie patch with young one in tow. She was explaining to her that this was the vine that the beans grew on as this child had never seen them on a vine before. A great learning curve and we were delighted to hear from young Miss that her Mum and Dad were popping in a veggie garden of their own very shortly.

Late January, it was time to harvest the honey from the hive and all the neighbours were thrilled to get many jars of honey of which little Miss was most happy to eat. It was time again to check the hive and all of a sudden 3 little faces appeared in our yard. Cousins were visiting from Australia and they were keen to watch from a safe distance.

This turned into a much longer job than usual! One frame was removed and taken further down the garden as it had very little honey on it. Three eager children followed. They were fascinated to poke their fingers into the sealed comb and release the sweet tasting nectar, then the questions began: How does the hive work? How many bees are there in the hive? Thus began a happy hour talking about this.

All three had seen the Bee Movie so they knew that the bee community was all girls. Just as well we knew our bee history as they asked every question imaginable. They learnt that the hive worked together all with their own jobs to do, so then it was back to the hive to observe.

They watched with fascination as a number of wasps tried to enter the hive and saw the guard bees at the door roll them out and see them off. They wanted to know what happens to the bees that die. And as luck would have it they saw that too as one bee carried off a dead bee to be deposited elsewhere and they also learnt the reason why.

Happily they trotted back home with an extra 3 jars of honey, so I guess I can add healthy learning to my list now.

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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