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From colony to community: how a former beekeeper keeps buzzing

For more than 40 years, Pedro Lopez — who dialyzes at our Everett center — was an apiarist, otherwise known as a beekeeper. He maintained thousands of hives in tiny Reedley, California, a place known as “The World’s Fruit Basket,” a nod to the town’s fruit cultivation.


“I loved everything about working with the bees,” says Pedro. “I learned something new every day; the bees were excellent teachers.”


Today, Pedro’s nephews Raul and Rafael own and manage his farm, Reynaga’s Bees, and they produce hundreds of pounds of honey every year. Altogether, they maintain over 7,000 hives. With approximately 4,000 bees per hive, that means they’ve got a whopping 28 million bees at work. And boy do they work! The bees can produce, on average, 100 pounds of honey per hive, per year. And that gold equates to a lot of green: a 200-gallon barrel of honey is sold for about $1,800. There is no wealth without risk, though, as Pedro remembers being stung over 200 times on one particular day!

Reynaga’s Bees harvest their honey twice per year, usually in May and August. During the winter, they maintain the hives and routinely feed the bees corn syrup.


During the pollinating season, bees work from sunrise to sundown, unless it’s raining or very cold, and only live for 40 days. To keep the hive “alive,” the queen bee lays approximately 500 eggs per day. The male drone bee who acts as the father is selected from more than 100 drones — some dating pool! It takes 21 days for the egg to grow into the larvae stage, and then “nurse” bees feed and maintain the young with special food until they are ready to go to work.

When bees head out and find the flowers with pollen and nectar that they need to make honey, they report back to the hive and do a special dance to tell other bees the exact location of the specific flower patch they found.

Once the bees collect the nectar and pollen, they are ready to store it in cells within the hive. When the hives are full, bees create a wind with their wings that evaporates all of the water, leaving behind the delicious honey.

These days, Pedro stays busy walking the neighborhood and talking to people about bees.


“One of my transit drivers wants to start keeping bees, and I’ve offered to help teach him and get him started.”


He visits his family in Reedley several times a year and is all set to go again in March, having just celebrated his 90th birthday and 13 years on dialysis!

Isn’t that just bee-utiful!

April 22 is Earth Day and, just like Pedro, this year’s campaign is focused on bringing back the bees! Bees are essential pollinators and unfortunately, the world’s population of bees is declining. One simple way to attract more bees is to plant wildflowers. Visit www.earthday.org/campaigns to read more about bringing back the bees and other campaigns of focus this year.

It’s World Kidney Day!

Time to raise awareness of kidney disease and its effect around the globe

March is National Kidney Month in the United States and March 14 is World Kidney Day, a day when people all over the world raise awareness of the kidney and how important it is. This year’s theme is ‘kidney health for everyone, everywhere.’ Kidney diseases are increasing across the globe — 850 million people are estimated to have some form of it — and the campaign is calling for universal health coverage for prevention and early treatment of kidney diseases.

Global burden of chronic kidney disease

1 in 10 people around the world have chronic kidney disease, and half of people aged 75 or older have some degree of it. Luckily, there are ways to lower your risk of developing the disease.

Ways to prevent kidney disease

To prevent chronic kidney disease, you should:

  • Manage your diabetes, if you have it
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Follow a low-sodium diet

Check out this infographic to learn more about the global burden of kidney diseases as well as more ways to reduce your risk of kidney problems.

On social media? Share facts about the kidney and ways to keep your kidneys healthy this Thursday, March 14, in honor of World Kidney Day. We’ll be doing the same – share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! And visit www.worldkidneyday.org to learn more about kidney disease and how people are recognizing World Kidney Day around the globe.

Love your kidneys!

Make simple changes for kidney health

February is all about love and this year, it’s time to spread that love to your kidneys. The truth is, they need it! Kidney disease is serious and one in three adult Americans is at risk for it. When your kidneys fail, you need regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to survive. The good news is, there are many things you can do right now to prevent kidney disease from happening. Follow the tips below to spread the love to your kidneys and help keep them healthy.

1. Follow a low-sodium diet. Eating foods high in sodium can increase your blood pressure and make your kidneys (and your heart) work harder. Keep your sodium intake under 2,000 milligrams a day. Avoid fast foods and packaged foods, and limit eating out as restaurant meals can be full of sodium. Cook at home, choose fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on and flavor foods with spices instead of salt. Check out our tasty low-sodium recipes and work with your dietitian or doctor on a complete meal plan.

2. Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure can impact arteries around your heart, making them weak and unable to deliver enough blood to your kidneys. Keep your blood pressure in check to help keep your arteries strong.

3. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help you control blood pressure, lose weight, get stronger and sleep better. It can also greatly improve your mood. Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes a day. Check out more fitness tips and work with your doctor to create an exercise plan that’s right for you.

4. Quit smoking. Smoking can slow the blood flow to your kidneys. If you smoke, work with your doctor on a plan to cut back and work towards quitting altogether. Visit smokefree.gov for tips and more information.

5. Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels in your kidneys. Keep your blood sugar at the level your doctor recommends to prevent kidney damage.

Now’s the time to focus on yourself and your health. Don’t put it off! Follow the tips above for a healthier you and let us know how it’s going – share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!