Catching Nature: Alicia Donovan

People Enjoying Nature in DuPage Forest Preserves

Finding a Sweet Spot for Nature

Posted by Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | Jun 25, 2019, 2:13:06 PM

Alicia Donovan
Volunteer beekeeper

I'm a volunteer beekeeper at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. I’ve been part of their beekeeping program for over a year. I got interested in honey bees three years ago after taking a Bees and Veterinary Medicine course taught by Meghan Milbrath at Michigan State University. After the first class I was hooked. Honey bees are fascinating and I wanted to learn as much as I could about them. I continued my honey bee education and attended beekeeping classes at the University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab. I love learning about bees and other pollinators.

We moved here 5 years ago from Minnesota for my husband’s job. I’m a stay-at-home mom of two boys ages 12 & 13 years old. On top of beekeeping I volunteer at my kid’s school and a local non-profit. I also run a local mom’s blog for our town. My free time is spent at our hobby farm in Wisconsin where we spend time as a family enjoying the outdoors.

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Catching the Nature Bug

I remember being a little girl and my favorite part of summer was catching fireflies. We would run all over the yard and marvel at how mysterious they were. After we had a full jar we would let them go into the night and watch them fly away flashing their bright lights.

Growing up in Minnesota I was surrounded by nature. It’s the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” and most activities involved being near or in the water. We camped, fished, and hiked as a family. Nature has always been part of my life and I want to continue those outdoor traditions with my kids. When we moved to Glen Ellyn, we quickly realized that the peace and quiet of the outdoors was a bit harder to find in the suburbs of Chicago, and that’s when we discovered the DuPage forest preserves. My boys love fishing at Herrick Lake and also attended the Ranger Camp during the summer. We love exploring the numerous hiking trails and visiting Danada Equestrian Center.

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What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again

It’s so rewarding to go through an entire beekeeping season. In April when we first install new bees into their hives they are just starting off as a small colony. As we go through the spring and summer the bees are working tirelessly, the queen is constantly laying eggs, the foragers are collecting pollen and nectar, they’re making honey and growing their colony. It’s amazing to see this process take place and it keeps me coming back time and time again.

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Favorite Nature Activities

My favorite thing is educating visitors who come to learn about honey bees in Wanda’s honey house at Kline Creek Farm. We get visitors of all ages who want to know how they can help protect honey bees and native bees. School groups are especially exciting because they are eager to learn and have so many interesting questions. It’s so important to teach our next generation about bees and other pollinators.

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How Nature Inspires

I have always had a love of nature but after becoming a beekeeper my respect for our environment has deepened. When you open a beehive and see these amazing creatures building honeycombs, making honey, and working together, it is a fascinating awe-inspiring experience. It is so inspirational!

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Advice to Others

I never thought I would find myself on this beekeeping adventure, but here I am. Being open to new experiences has led me to some unexpected and wonderful discoveries. This journey started with one step, and my advice to anyone looking to start something new is to take that single step because you never know where it will lead you.

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If you have a fun or unique way of catching nature in our preserves and would like to be featured in a “Catching Nature” blog, please contact Deb Humiston at dhumiston@dupageforest.org.

Topics: Locations, Natural resources, Volunteer, Take 5, Wildlife, Conservation, Nature