When Parole Agent Luis Cardenas isn’t on the job helping parolees, he keeps busy caring for bees. Cardenas, a Medal of Valor recipient, also makes a positive impression on his coworkers. (Editor’s note: Cardenas has since retired.)
Beekeeping is his way of helping balance work and life. Aside from providing sweet honey, his hobby also offers lessons regarding relationships and teamwork.
“The busy bees are non-stop. The job I have as the GPS agent in Bakersfield can seem that way as well,” he said. “The bees all know their place in the hive and, as a mass, they accomplish quite a bit. They protect the queen, recover pollen, create wax and honey.”
Without their ability to work together, a hive falls apart. The same can be said of any work environment.
“The bees are ready to place their individual needs after the needs of the hive. They present a mass of chaotic movement but a closer look shows you a well-oiled machine,” Cardenas said. “We can learn from that. If we work together and focus on one simple task, we can accomplish great things.”
After learning about bees and their precarious position in the ecosystem, Cardenas decided he needed to do something.
“I started keeping bees after watching a program about the lack of bees due to pesticides and farming,” he said.
Don’t think beekeeping is his only outside interest. According to Cardenas, he has two other hobbies.
“I sew and I play the trumpet for the veterans band of Bakersfield,” he said.
Patience yields sweet rewards
“The bees force me to be patient and wait for the honey to harvest every six months,” Cardenas said. “I provide the honey to my partners at work and close friends. After 20 years in CDCR and over 20 years in the military, I have found good ways to decompress. I also help others see the need for activity outside of the office and not related to work.”
He said if people are interested in doing something, they should give it a try instead of procrastinating.
“When people tell me they will try to do something eventually, I say, make time because if you wait, it will not happen,” Cardenas said.
Office coworkers appreciate his teamwork
The Behavioral Health Reintegration (BHR) program helps those on parole find services they need thanks to agents and clinicians.
“Here at our local BHR we have an excellent work relationship with the agents and support staff,” said Clinical Social Worker Eladio Castro.
Working in the Bakersfield BHR, Castro said the agents, support staff and mental health professionals are part of a team.
“We work together to best serve our parolee population. One staff who stands out is Parole Agent Luis Cardenas,” Castro said.
While Cardenas focuses on the paroled population he supervises, he also helps staff.
“He’s continuously looking after us. One of many examples is bringing fruits if he sees too much candy laying around. He also gives us personalized holiday cards he writes in calligraphy as well as sewing Christmas stockings for everyone in the unit,” Castro said.
Cardenas also shares honey from his personal honey farm.
“He also brought a popcorn machine to make commercial quality popcorn at our office for everyone,” Castro said. “As a parole office, we are lucky to have Agent Cardenas as well as many other agents who have always treated us as part of their team. BHR could not succeed without their help and support.”
National Honey Bee Day is August 20, 2022
Did you know? The third Saturday in August is National Honey Bee Day, recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture as a way to honor honey bees and beekeepers. National Honey Bee Day is managed by HoneyLove.org, a Los Angeles-based honey bee educational non-profit. The day of recognition began in 2009.
By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Learn more about parole services and behavioral health.