I would like to thank the OBA Board for allowing me the privilege of acting on behalf of the beekeepers of Ontario. Thanks to Maureen VanderMarel, OBA Business Administrator for keeping me on track and for keeping the OBA Administration running.
Also, thanks to Tim Greer for his sage advice on National issues and the implications for Ontario. Finally thanks to all the committee chairs and members for their hard work in the various areas of our industry.
There have been a lot of changes happening this past year.
OBA welcomed Les Eccles into the role of Lead Tech Transfer Specialist. The Tech Transfer Team has been successful at securing funds for several projects. Even though the bulk of their financial support comes from funding agencies and provincial government, it is still very important for industry to support this program both financially and in kind. We have seen a number of the local clubs making financial contributions to the program. This is very encouraging.
The Ontario Bee Journal has a new editor. Karen Daynard took over the reins early in the year. She has been learning the ropes, and has been a welcome addition to the team. I want to thank Henry Heimstra for his many years of volunteer work to develop the journal to its present standard. OBJ chair, Kelly Rogers is also to be commended for working with Karen during this transition period.
Nancy Comber has taken on the role of Promotion and Media Coordinator. She along with Dan Walker and committee has been very busy developing promotional material, as well as presenting at various events around the Province. I would encourage all of our members to take advantage of the items that have been developed. As well, I know that Nancy is very receptive to innovative ideas. So if you have some suggestions, bring them to Nancy to see if they can be added to the program.
Small hive beetle has reared its ugly head in a few areas since being discovered in Essex County summer 2010. OBA worked with OMAFRA to set up a quarantine zone in the Essex area. We received OMAFRA funding to initiate research on best management practices as well as to ensure that there were enough colonies managed for pollination requirements within the control zone. The quarantine was by and large effective at limiting the spread of SHB. There was extensive monitoring taking place throughout the season. Several areas were targeted as potential areas of concern. There was a beetle found in a trap near Cornwall, along the border with New York. Then there was another find near Shelburne, which we suspect was a result of a sale of bees from a producer who didn’t apply for a permit to sell. I want to stress how important it is to follow regulations when it comes to buying or selling bees. This particular illegal sale has put the entire Province at risk with regard to our disease status. This also has international implications. OBA Board of Directors is working with OMAFRA to best manage this emerging pest on the members’ behalf.
Several attempts were made to have MAQS available to treat our bees; however PMRA has not allowed either EUR request to move ahead, stating that we didn’t have sufficient rationale at this time for approval. We have heard that they will expedite a full registration, and that process is underway as we speak. I remain hopeful that more varroa treatment products will be available as we move forward.
Peter Mewitt, OBA Nominations Chair has been busy recruiting potential OBA directors, with a special emphasis on Eastern and Northern Ontario where we have members, but no directors. If you have been approached, please seriously consider taking on this role to more effective have your regional concerns addressed by OBA.
Honey has been included in the new Self Directed Risk Management program. This is a good start to recognizing that beekeepers are an important part of agriculture. We need to work with our counterparts in agriculture to have more income streams included under this program. Pollination services, queen and nuc sales as well as other hive products are all important parts of beekeeping income in the Province. As an industry, we have allowed an assumption to develop, that there will always be enough bees for the pollination of crops. As we face ever increasing winter mortality of our honey bees, this can no longer be taken for granted. When it comes to accessing funds for research and restocking costs, we would be much more successful if we had other commodities on board to stress the importance of pollination. We need to do a better job of getting the message out to the horticultural sector as well as blueberry and canola growers that the health of our honeybees is in jeopardy.
I look forward to seeing everyone at this AGM, and if the members agree, I look forward to serving as your president for one more year.
John Van Alten