AUSTIN (KXAN) – East Austin has a new unusual sight: miniature beekeepers. At Govalle Elementary, fifth graders are suiting up and learning how to raise bees.

“Kids don’t really learn about bees, like they might learn about insects for two days or one week in the school year,” said Stacey Smith, librarian at Govalle Elementary. Smith heads the beekeeping program at the school.

“Reading about it’s great. I’m a librarian, but anytime they can come out to this garden,” Smith said about the advantages of the lab. The garden and bees were paid for after the school was awarded the 2021 Bright Green Future grant.

“Nobody does more with less than teachers,” said Mary K. Priddy, manager of the grant program for the City of Austin’s office of sustainability. Each year, the Bright Green Future grant is issued to schools in the Austin area. The school has to use a city service, like Austin Energy or Resource Recovery, to qualify.

In the past they’ve issued grants that have paid for gardens, bicycle clubs and even solar panels. 44 grants were issued this year, 34 of which went to AISD schools.

“It’s up to the schools of their imagination. I think that’s one of the things that’s so wonderful about this program is that we let the schools come up with the ideas,” Priddy said.

Adora, a 5th grader at Govalle Elementary, learns about beekeeping. (KXAN Photo/Tim Holcomb)

Govalle Elementary was awarded $3,000 last year to pay for the beekeeping program. They also were awarded funds this year to pay for two sustainability projects on campus.

“I don’t know what we would do without the Bright Green Future and the City of Austin,” Smith said.

The beekeeping program began after the school inherited a bee colony following school closures in their area. The inherited bees died during the 2021 winter storm. However, with Smith wanted to keep the program going.

Celia Bell from Two Hives Honey trains teachers and students about raising bees. (KXAN Photo/Eric Henrikson)

Using the grant money, Smith brought out Two Hives Honey to teach her how to take care of the bees and train 5th graders. The money was also used to buy a new colony of bees.

“in a time now where we’re just trying to rebuild the love of learning and outdoor learning getting outside. I just don’t know what we would do without (the Bright Green Future grant),” Smith said.

The application process for the grant will open again in the fall.