VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - To tend to her 35,000 pets, 14-year-old Gabby Taylor needs to suit up carefully. Perched as far away from her house as the backyard allows is Gabby's Langstroth hive, where 35,000 bees live. She admits she's still a little scared of them.
“I was always afraid of bees, I was just always afraid of getting stung," said Gabby.
That's why she wears the suit. Her love for the striped creatures started when her mom was trying to find her a new hobby.
“She's always liked science, things like that, nature and I was looking for something for her to do," said Terri Taylor.
She took Gabby to a 4-H at the recommendation of a friend. That day happened to be a beekeeping field day and Gabby's been loving bees ever since.
“They're pretty strong on their own. I just have to go in there sometimes and make sure they're alright, but usually, they’re alright," said Gabby.
It takes weeks for the bees to produce honeycomb. Having to wait for years has taught Gabby something important.
“You just have to have patience. You don't want to rush anything because then they might get upset or angry," said Gabby.
Her mom agrees. She said when Gabby is tending to her bees she's very serene and it's obvious it's what she loves to do.
Gabby can spend hours suited up, checking on her bees. All that time has turned her into an activist, advocating for bees, which are flying toward extinction. Some experts say it's a big problem since because bees pollinate a third of crops and if they die, the problem will sting in more ways than one. In 2015 alone, 44 percent of honeybee colonies have died off. Gabby's mentor says she's one of a kind in the beekeeping community.
“She has more passion than most adults and you can't buy passion. It’s refreshing to work with somebody that's not just interested because it's a sensation for a moment, but it sustains itself over the years," said Hodgie Holgerson.
In an upcoming HBO documentary series, Saving My Tomorrow, Gabby talked about how important bees are to the environment and what can be done to protect them.
“They really need our help and we can really help them out by not using any pesticides that aren’t organic or anything you know that could harm them in any way," said Gabby.
It's safe to say Gabby is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her 35,000 pets safe, even if she has to cover up just to take a peek. It may be her fourth hive, but this is just the bee-ginning.