2012 has been a very busy year for your OBA board. In addition to regular board meetings and committee work, there were quite a few issues that needed to be addressed.
A number of us went to Winnipeg early in the year to take part in the stock replacement symposium. We were able to represent Ontario’s position on addressing our industries’ need to be able to recover from high winter losses and to meet the pollination requirements of agriculture across the country. I think this discussion was the beginning of ongoing meetings to take place on a regular basis.
Your board also made a commitment to use any remaining small hive beetle funding to try to mitigate the spread of Small Hive Beetle. We were able to facilitate the eradication of several small isolated outbreaks around the province. This is important in order to keep our disease status from worsening, and I want to thank OMAFRA inspection staff and the beekeepers involved for their cooperation.
Our membership committee, led by Julie White, put together an online member survey that was very informative. As a result of the survey, several initiatives were undertaken.
1) A strategic planning committee was struck with the mandate to revamp the OBA’s mission, vision and values. That committee, led by Hugh Simpson, has done a remarkable job, the results of which will go a long way in aiding future boards in leading the OBA.
2) The OBA logo was redesigned in order to better reflect our organization.
3) A Presidents' Summit was organized which saw the leaders of local beekeeping associations from across the province come together for a day of discussion around making the OBA more relevant for all beekeepers in the province.
4) The OBA website is undergoing a major overhaul, which will make it more applicable and accessible to both our members and the general public.
Several areas in Ontario were severely affected by dusting off pesticides from the planting of treated corn seed. We have been, and still are involved in the repercussions of that problem. This is a very sensitive subject, with opinions ranging from wanting to ban all neonicitinoid insecticides, to suggestions that they are far better than what was previously used. As beekeepers, we watch our livestock being collateral damage, as these new pesticides enter the market place. We understand the need to control pests as farmers produce the food that we eat, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of honeybees or for that matter pollinators in general. This problem could be our greatest challenge as we move forward in the years to come.
The University of Guelph has announced a new chair for pollinators. They are in the process of selecting the appropriate person to fill that position. We have had discussions with the folks at U.of G. and we are very interested in helping to ensure that this new position compliments the important work that the Honeybee Research Centre is doing.
We have been successful in securing another three year funding agreement with OMAFRA. This funding forms the foundation of our tech transfer program. I want to thank Pamela Young and Paul Kozak for their continued support and help in this regard.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Maureen for all the work she does to keep the OBA President and executive on track. Without her support and guidance I wouldn’t have been able to get anything done.
Finally, I want to thank the beekeepers of Ontario for allowing me to serve as your President for the past two years. It has been a very fulfilling experience. I pass the torch on to Dan Davidson and his executive with mixed emotions, but I know that Dan has a passion for beekeeping and a very acute sense of what needs to be done. I wish him all the best.