“They don’t really see the same way as you do,” Gabby Taylor says of her bees. “They don’t like dark colors because it reminds them of their predators in the wild, so I really shouldn’t be wearing this out here.”
Dressed in all gray with aqua-gray Nikes, the 14-year-old Virginia Beach resident knows the business of bees.
“There’s one,” she calmly says as a bee settles on her shoulder, though only for a moment. She admits she’s still a little afraid of them but doesn’t let her apprehension interfere with her hobby.
As kids often do, Gabby was just looking for something to do one summer, aside from her other hobbies (knitting, crocheting and gardening). After attending 4-H meetings and viewing beekeeping demonstrations, Gabby developed a fascination for these striped creatures and started beekeeping when she was in fifth grade. “I didn’t really go into it saying, ‘Oh, I want to be a beekeeper’ at first because I was terrified of bees, and I still am kind of scared of them now,” Gabby explains.
She ordered her first beehive in sixth grade, but her newfound hobby wasn’t so easy to begin; Mom had to be convinced. “She didn’t mind at first,” Gabby notes. But one day at a demonstration, her mother was stung by a bee. “After that I pretty much had to start convincing her because she was not going to let me keep [the hive] here,” she says.
After some convincing, Gabby’s backyard is now home to a Langstroth hive currently holding 35,000–40,000 bees. “I haven’t been stung by a bee, ever. Not yet, anyways,” she laughs. “I always try to think as long as you don’t do anything wrong, they’re not going to do anything wrong.”
The rising high school freshman just ordered her third hive, one that produces more honey compared to her Langstroth hive. Though she likes both types, she admits the Langstroth is her favorite. “It’s more for the bees,” she says.
Once or twice a month, Gabby checks to make sure the queen is laying eggs and that there’s no disease in the hive.
Soon she will be featured in HBO’s documentary series, “Saving My Tomorrow,” an opportunity she learned about through 4-H. The six-part family series showcases children voicing their thoughts on caring for the planet. During the recording of the episode, Gabby talked about the importance of bees and shared advice on how others can protect the environment. Though the show has yet to air, HBO allowed her to reveal the episode in a special screening in early June at Creeds Ruritan Club in Virginia Beach.
“I like that I’m able to help the environment and saving an endangered species because there’s not enough beekeepers out here and [with] colony collapse disorder, bees are disappearing,” she says. “And we’re trying to get their numbers back up.”