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June 8, 2015
Dear <<First Name>>,

Most of us are barely able to find the time to eat dinner these days, but that sure doesn't stop the number of reports, studies, emerging issues and meetings we have to attend to. The Senate report on bee health came out this month, as did an advance copy of PMRA's report on neonicotinoids and crop yield. Both interesting reads that you can find on our website and below. Jim Wilson and I have been to our first Pesticides Committee meeting and are really impressed with the calibre of membership and the agenda. We are looking forward to working with everyone there this year. Other issues on our plate include providing input into the pre-Ministerial Conference Stakeholder Session, country of origin labelling and review of small hive beetle protocols.

We also continue to work closely with the Ontario government on the new pesticide regulations which will be released by July 1st. This next stage will be critical as success hinges on effective implementation and commitment from all parties.

As you know, OBA isn't having a typical summer meeting this year due to our involvement in the EAS conference. If you haven't signed up yet, I encourage you to do so - it's shaping up to be a fantastic few days. Hope to see you there.

All the best,
Tibor Szabo, President


The Senate Committee on Ag and Forestry releases report on bees.

A report entitled "The Importance of Bee Health to Sustainable Food Production in Canada" that was released last week by the Canadian Senate acknowledges that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees, although it says that more scientific data are needed before making any policies in response. The report highlights different stressors that cause harm to bees, including neonics, that have been linked to global bee declines, including climate change, diseases and parasites and lack of floral diversity. The report calls for PMRA to speed up its re-evaluation of neonics, which currently is scheduled for 2018.

The report outlines nine specific recommendations, one of which is to allow the import of bee packages from other countries, such as the United States. OBA continues to support the findings of CFIA's risk assessment of 2013 which does not support reopening the US border. For more information on this issue, check out the next edition of OBJ coming out on July 1st. (Haven't renewed your membership yet? Do it today to maintain your subscription.)

Other recommendations include: continue monitoring pollinator mortality to assess effectiveness of planting measures, increasing the amount and duration of research funding, and improving pollinator habitat. There was also a recommendation about improving management practices of hobbyist beekeepers (which we don't really understand) and a recommendation related to minimizing chemical product use of growers and ensuring the availability of untreated seeds.

OBA is pleased that the Senate has committed itself to the health and well-being of Canada's honey bees and other pollinators, but regrets that the report falls short of deliberate and timely action related to the prophylactic use of neonicotinoids.

The OBA's testimony to the committee.   The Senate report.

Last year there were 90,000 visits to OBA's 'Where to Buy Honey' website page.

'Where to Buy Honey' is one of our most popular website pages with almost 8,000 page views per month. We'd like to build on the popularity of local honey and support our members by upgrading this page to include a map-based searchable capacity. That is, visitors could put in their postal code or town and get a mapped listing of honey producers near them rather than having to scroll through a list. The one-time cost for the software and installation is about $1,500, so we want to make sure that this is a service members want and will use to ensure it's worth the added expense. Can you take a minute to complete our quickie poll to assess support? If this is something members want we should be able to get it up and running by harvest season, but we need 60 more participants to make it affordable. Note to members: You can sign up to the current page now ($25 +HST). If we install the new system your listing will roll over. Just call the office.

Minister Leal and OBA Director, Dennis Edell, chat about bees

As part of OBA's honey promotion strategy, we participated in Foodland Ontario's Queen's Park Farmers' Market on June 4th. Thanks to Dennis and Leslie Edell for their hands-on support as well as Melanie Coates who helped us again this year with an observation hive provided by Tibor Szabo. We also had backup from Foodland Ontario who worked with OBA's general manager, Lorna Irwin to organize the event that showcases food produced in Ontario, part of Local Food Week promotions across the province. OBA appreciates that Minister Leal stopped by and chatted with our folks. (see banner photo above.) OBA also created a new brochure on neonicotinoids for participants. If you want copies for an event or your honey house, contact the office.

Ontario Apiculture Winter Loss and Management survey deadline extended!
This is a reminder that OMAFRA is engaging beekeepers in their annual Ontario Apiculture Winter Loss and Management survey. The survey is conducted annually to gather data about the health of the honey bee industry, estimate, winter colony loss and track management practices used by beekeepers in Ontario. This voluntary survey is sent to all beekeepers with more than 50 registered colonies and a group of randomly selected beekeepers with 49 or fewer registered colonies.

OMAFRA's Apiary Program has extended the deadline for survey response submission to June 12. If you received a survey package in the mail from OMAFRA and haven't already submitted a response, we would like to remind you that your participation is important as the survey provides valuable information about the state of honey bee health in Ontario.

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